Book Review: The Tao of Motivation

After a long and difficult week, a book on motivation just seemed a little too upbeat, but ultimately it was a perfectly timed refresher to help me refocus.

The Tao of Motivation by Max Landsberg was first published 14 years ago, but with a grounding in basic psychology, the five-step approach to motivating yourself and others is just as helpful today.

Landsberg straddles the writing styles that engage both type-A personalities and the more free-spirited, weaving together a step-by-step cycle for motivation with a relatable story following Alex, an executive hoping for a higher status who is passed over by the board.

I put off The Tao of Motivation for several weeks initially. Certain process sections are dry and somewhat obvious, but after reading the entire book, I thoroughly enjoyed the illustration of what is genuinely a somewhat dry and obvious topic. Landsberg’s examples engaged me in applying to principles to an area where I could use greater motivation.

Landsberg suggests the opposite of a vicious cycle; that of a “VICTORY cycle.” This encompasses his five components of motivation, including:

  • Vision;
  • Confidence;
  • Effort;
  • Results; and
  • Reinforcing responses to feedback.

In particular, the following gems will stick with me for good:


  • Seeding confidence through positive feedback whenever deserved, a strong vision, and a focus on prior success.
  • Feeding your growing confidence (or that of others) by engaging with self-affirming people, acknowledging accomplishments along the way, and cross-pollinating with other successes in your life.
  • Weeding out the negative messages, habits, and people that would otherwise undermine your confidence.


With a type-A personality, when I approach a challenge I tend to lay out  a detailed schematic that follows point A to final objective, with every step identified in between. I found Landsberg’s advice golden:

Plans should be viewed as jigsaw puzzles, not as Rubik’s cubes. 

A Rubik’s cube requires specific, sequential steps. If you skip just one, you won’t come to the same result. However, a jigsaw puzzle has flexibility. As resources and challenges rise and fall, you (or your team  or family) can adapt and invest effort into the a variety of areas, based on the new circumstances.

Stress vs. Strain

“Stress is the force which is exerted on an object, while strain is the way the force is transmitted through an object.” Stress comes from your environment and situation – it is external. Strain is internal. You may be in an equally or more stressful position than someone else, but ultimately you can alter your level of strain.

Ultimately, The Tao of Motivation delivers some impactful puzzle pieces that can immediately be put into place to support you in achieving your own goals or motivating others in your life.

This can be very helpful when you are making significant changes in your life, such as when negotiating for a remote work agreement or in sharing your excitement for long-term travel with your spouse.

Giveaway! Enter to win The Tao of Motivation in two easy steps:

1) Become an email subscriber if you aren’t already. You can subscribe here.

2) What project or challenge would you apply the concepts from this book to? Share your stories on this post.

The subscriber with the most compelling comment by the end of the day Monday will receive a brand new copy of The Tao of Motivation!

MST. Contest is limited to addresses in the United States, including APO/FPO addresses with US Zip Codes. [post_ender]

1 Comment
  1. Informative post . I loved the info ! Does anyone know where my assistant could possibly get access to a fillable NYC DOE OP-175 document to use ?

Free resources and support, every Friday: