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As incentives for working hard go, self-motivation is a very tricky life-skill to master. It’s easy enough to complete a task when we have to do our work on a certain schedule. On the other hand, motivating ourselves to achieve great things without deadlines or emotional support can take an amount of willpower and self-belief that most of us will be unaccustomed to in our everyday lives. (Just ask the thousands of people who are tasked with working from home in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.) Like many skills, however, self-motivation can be learned over time; here are just a few reasons why the skill is so central to good leadership.

Success is Often a Solo Journey

Like those pioneers of early flight who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on their own, a journey towards personal success is often undertaken as a kind of solo mission. Like those brave aviators of yore, moreover, most entrepreneurs will have to rely on their own acumen and self-belief to see their vision through. Without a good grounding in self-motivation, in fact, the journey to bigger and brighter things in life will often seem downright impossible.

Leadership Often Means Sticking to Your Guns

If you’re the leader of a successful organization, you’re going to run into a lot of conflict with other people at some point in your career. (In some business environments, you’ll probably run into conflict almost every day.) Sometimes, your belief in the right course of action is going to be at odds with shareholders, employees, and fellow managers.

However you slice it, self-motivation as a life-skill will be an essential facet in your stress management routine as a business leader. After all, it takes a lot of courage and confidence to make your case to a reluctant (or downright hostile) audience day after day. Without self-belief and a strong reason for getting out of bed in the morning, in fact, your work is probably going to suffer.

Without Passion, It’s Nearly Impossible to Achieve Great Things

For most people, self-motivation has to come from a place of genuine interest: If you can’t stand doing math problems, you’re probably going to struggle with the prospect of launching an accounting firm from the ground up. Had he not been passionate about advances in computer technology, for example, Steve Jobs probably would have thrown in the towel as a business leader after being fired from his own company.

It may seem obvious to most of us, but staying motivated when times are tough often comes down to the love (or lack of love) that we feel for our life’s work. If we’re only achieving things because we’ve been told that it’s the right thing to do, we probably won’t be that invested in our daily tasks. At the end of the day, a leader without self-motivation is a lot like a car without an oil change: It may still run for the time being, but there will definitely be trouble on the horizon.