Motivating the Unmotivatable

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A friend of mine came up to me today and said something I found humorous and surprisingly interesting. The profound conversation went something like this:

“Greg, you need to come up with a method for how to motivate people who are unmotivatable.” (Is that even a word? I wondered.)

“Unmotivatable? Doesn’t the mere definition of the ‘word’ imply they can’t be motivated?”

“Ya… Right. That’s why you need to find a method to do just that.”

“Uh Huh…”, I nod my head in acknowledgement as I ponder this obviously complex and brilliant notion.

As you can see, this was a short conversation, but it did give rise to few interesting thoughts which I’ll share. I decided to have a little fun with it and take it (almost) literally: how can one inspire and motivate others who are difficult (or impossible) to reach? Well, the truth of the matter in two words – you can’t.

Well, not with words anyway.  Let me explain.

Teaching a Dead Dog to Sit

So here’s the question, can a person really be unmotivatable?

From my perspective, this would be a person who is empty of any passions, dreams, or aspirations towards their life and future. They are lost in a state of stagnation that they choose to stay in and no one else can help them escape until they make the conscious decision to do so. They have to realize the crippling state they are in before they can start walking again. You can do nothing for this person until they are ready.

Wasting your breath trying to motivate a person like this is like trying to teach a dead dog to sit. Even if you force them through the motions, they aren’t going to learn anything. (Even shouting, spanking, and rewarding don’t work… )

Just as wise words will fall on deaf ears to a foolish person, you cannot inspire a person who is not ready to be inspired. I choose to write for this website because I hope it will reach the ears of those who want to hear it. I doubt a person described above would read articles such as these.

People must want to help themselves before they can be helped by others. Jim Rohn, one of my favorite inspirational speakers, said:

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Sure, you may be able to motivate someone for a week or two, but what happens when the initial flame dwindles?  You can’t keep a fire going without fuel. It is up to that person to define a system of successful habits (the fuel) that will keep them directed towards their goals. I don’t believe in plateauing (or flat-lining); you either are going up towards your goals, or you are going down and away from your goals. Stagnation is simply the pause before the fall.

What Can I DO?

Save your breath. There is a more powerful way to affect those around you:  By example.

Become the person you know you can be, the person you desire to become, and with a little bit of luck, those around you will take notice. Become a light, a beacon if you will, that people can visibly see (or feel) there is something different, something special, and something very unique about you.

This is why knowing and improving yourself, improves the world – affecting one person at a time starting within your sphere of influence.

“The world awakens one person at a time.” – Sun Tzu

Have you learned, gathered, created and are practicing your own successful habits? Keep doing what you know best and you will assuredly affect the observant ones around you.  It’s contagious to those already susceptible!


On the other side of the spectrum, a person who is ready, open, and wants to make a positive change in their life is easily motivated. Sometimes the only thing needed is a friendly push or little encouragement to get the ball rolling. We all have the ability to push and motivate ourselves but sometimes having the human connection of knowing that someone else wants us to succeed and is emotionally backing us, can really help.

Don’t be frugal when giving support and encouragement to those who desire to improve themselves or their situation.


Although I defined an ‘unmotivatable person’, I still have trouble believing the existence of a person such as this. I have yet to meet someone that fits this description.  In my experience, outward appearances and actions (or lack of) are deceiving, and discovering what makes the person truly tick holds the secret to how to get their cylinders moving.

Give encouragement freely to those you love, to those who want to do something with their lives, and to those people desiring more.

Do YOU need a push? Ask someone who loves you and is dependable. (And read through FYI Month)

Motivate the unmotivatable?…  What do you guys think?


“Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.” ~ Jim Rohn

This post was written by

Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at)!

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4 thoughts on “Motivating the Unmotivatable”

  1. Carina says:

    Well, I believe there’s no such thing as an ‘unmotivatable’ person…there’s always something that makes them wake up in the morning and face the day ; )
    We might think some people are ‘unmotivatable’ in the sense that we expect them to be motivated by all the things we like and want them to…we forget to respect their own choices and desires in life and many times judge their plans as not being very ambitious or even ‘good enough’…and then we go on and say ‘they lack motivation’, which can be true in some cases – and that’s when we ‘give them a hand’ by writing blogs, for instance : )
    But sometimes they’re just happy being who they are and doing what they do…and living in their own world they created…and we call them ‘unmotivatable’ just because they don’t want to change.
    So, there are those who want motivation and those who don’t…but it doesn’t mean they are ‘unmotivatable’.

    1. Greg Yung says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Carina!

  2. Maria says:

    I will definitely try to prove you wrong! I ‘ll inform you about the results! 🙂

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