Picture of me sleeping by Cindy. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Picture of me sleeping by Cindy. Uji, Kyoto 2017

What drives or motivates you? Are you self-driven, by your need to fulfill your inner-desires, and to help society? Are you driven by your own inner-demons and your own inner-angels (intrinsic motivation), or are you driven by the hope of hope of attaining more money, more power, more influence, and more followers (extrinsic motivation)?


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We are driven by both

To be honest, I don’t think anyone is purely driven by one or another. It is a mix, combination of both.

As social beings, we are extrinsically motivated. We either want “rewards” from others and society via money, recognition, or social status.

Sunset over Uji, Kyoto 2017

Yet, deep down, in our DNA— I do genuinely feel that we have an inner-drive and inner-desire to achieve something purely for ourselves (intrinsic motivation).

Intrinsic motivation

I can’t tell you what you’re driven by, but I can tell you what drives me:

  1. A hunger for knowledge, wisdom, information and to empower myself
  2. To avoid boredom, depression, and a sense of purposeless in life
  3. The joy of making art: the joy of making pictures, the joy of making music, the joy of writing, the joy of conversation, the joy of teaching, the joy of sharing, and the joy of remixing and creating new ideas. The joy of doing something for the sake of itself — to achieve that “flow” state (the feeling of being “in the zone”).
  4. The desire to make myself as strong, confident, and powerful as possible — in order to help empower others.
  5. To have a zest for living, for life, to uncover the “mysteries of the universe”, and to jump out of bed every morning with enthusiasm to “play” like a child.

Extrinsic motivation


My extrinsic motivation can be categorized into a desire for money, power, and influence:

  1. Money to buy coffee, support Cindy, pay rent, buy meat, and to travel.
  2. Power to live life according to my own rules, and not having society strong-arm me into doing shit I don’t want to do.
  3. Influence: to help inspire, motivate, and affect the minds and hearts of others.

What drives you?

So friend, I don’t want to say that there is any “right” or “wrong” motivations in life. We are all driven by both intrinsic (inner drive) and extrinsic (drive from society).

If I really think about it though— as a true artist, you should be more driven by the intrinsic motivation than the external.

“The life of…” coloring page from book: “Creative Every Day”

Intrinsic motivation: the desire to achieve something great for yourself, and for society. Mostly driven by the desire to succeed, to accomplish your personal maximum, and to become great.

Extrinsic motivation: the desire to impress others (who you don’t really care about). I think extrinsic motivation is mostly driven by fear. We seek to impress others because fear of being ridiculed and made fun of. Fear of going bankrupt or broke.

Eye by Annette Kim

Another way to ask yourself the question:

Am I driven by the desire to make, create, and do dope shit (intrinsic motivation)? Or am I driven by the fear of failure, or being chastised/punished by society? (extrinsic motivation).

Humans are great

Cindy. Saigon, 2017

I think it is dumb that modern psychologists say that were only driven by fear, and driven by a “carrot and stick” system of rewards. No. As human beings, we are far more advanced than rabbits and cows. We are great — we seek grandeur, valor, and virtue for the sake of it.

Pink sunset. Bangkok, 2017.

Also, we are visual artists — we create visual art for the sake of empowering ourselves and society at large. We do it for the love. We got our “soul in the fame” (in the words of Nassim Taleb). We want to do something great, take higher risks, for the sake of being more grand.

Ask yourself the hard questions

Cindy looking up, yelllow background and trees. Hanoi, 2016

So friend, what do you want from life? Are you willing to take those risks? For whom are you making risks in life for — to only benefit yourself? Or to help others in modern society, and perhaps future generations?

Suit and yellow flowers. Hong Kong, 2014


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