To launch this year’s programme of Inspire talks for our students, we welcomed Dr Raj Persaud. Raj is a consultant psychiatrist and broadcaster, well-known for raising public awareness of psychiatric and mental health issues in the media. He is also the author of several books, including ‘The Motivated Mind’, which explores the needs we all have and how ‘success’ and ‘achievement’ fit in with our overall fulfillment. It is this topic of ‘Motivation’ that Raj explored with students today.
Having told an engaging anecdote of a couple who won millions of dollars in the American lottery, he quizzed students about what these winners’ motivation was for continuing to buy lottery tickets even after banking their fortune. Many students shared their theories with lively debate, but Raj explained the real reason was that the couple’s belief system around winning the lottery had fundamentally changed. Having been highly cynical about the chances of winning, the couple now believed, having won the lottery, it was their destiny to be lucky. And by continuing to play the lottery every week, they were in fact testing out this theory to see if they really were destined to be lucky. It turns out they haven’t won again!
Raj’s point is that everyone has their own belief system about their destiny, but people mainly fall within two camps: those who believe that destiny is in their own hands versus those who believe that destiny is set and nothing can change it. He refers to these people as ‘internals’ and ‘externals’. His message to the students was to ask themselves which category they think they fall into and to challenge themselves to become more ‘internal’ – to take responsibility for what happens and to take charge to determine their own outcomes. For students, this means working hard and accepting personal responsibility for failure. This he believes is the secret to success.