How Bad Do You Want It Success

One of the best motivational videos on YouTube is titled ‘How bad do you want it (success)’. There are different versions of it and it’s been around for quite some time, but because things can disappear at any moment on YouTube I thought I would transcribe it for anyone who wanted the heart of the text.

‘How bad do you want it’ really reminds my of my own life. There were some pretty dark days, financially personally, and professionally when I first moved out to DC — not knowing anyone — but those long nights and early mornings eventually paid off. Sleep? There were at least three years where a good night’s sleep was a rarity, and while such a schedule can quickly lead to burn out, it was also necessary to get to where I am today.

No one needs to pay me to write. I’d do it whether I worked for a think tank or a newspaper or if something extremely weird happened and I ended up working for Target again. Today, I’m lucky enough to get paid to do things that I love. But the odd thing is, the old saying is true: the harder you work, the better your luck tends to get.

Who knew.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did.

Edited Text, ‘How bad do you want it (Success)’:

There was a young man who wanted to make a lot of money, and so he went to a guru. He told the guru he wanted to reach his level of greatness. And so the guru said: “If you want to be on the same level I’m on, I’ll meet you tomorrow at the beach.”

So the young man arrived at 4:00 a.m. He had on a suit, but he should have worn shorts. The old man grabbed his hand and said: “How bad do you want to be successful?” The young responded: “Badly.”

So the old man told the young man to walk out into the water. It was waist deep. The young man thought: “This old man is crazy.”

The young man said to himself: “I want to make money and this guy has me out here swimming. I didn’t ask to be a lifeguard. I want to make money.

Then the old man said: “Come out a little farther,” and the young man did so.

As the young man was up to his shoulders in water he again thought: “This old man is crazy! He’s making money, but he’s crazy.”

The old man said, “Come out a little farther.”

The young man obeyed, but wavered as if he might turn back.

So the old man said: “I thought you said you wanted to be successful?”

“I do,” said the student.

So the old man ordered the young man to come out even farther, and when he did he pushed the young man’s head under water and held it down. Although the young man fought, the old man would not let him up. Just before the young man passed out the old man raised his head above the surface and said: “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

I don’t know how many of you have asthma today, but if you ever had an asthma attack before and you’re S.O.B. — you’ve got shortness of breath — and you’re wheezing, the only thing you’re trying to do is get some air. You don’t care about no basketball game. You don’t care what’s on TV.  You don’t care about anybody calling you. You don’t care about a party. The only thing you care about when you’re trying to breathe is to get some fresh air. That’s it. And when you get to the point where all you want to do is be successful as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.

Most of you say you want to be successful, but you don’t want it bad. You just kind of want it. You don’t want it badder than you want to party. You don’t want it as much as you want to be cool. Most of you don’t want success as much as you want to sleep. Some of you want sleep more than you want success. And I’m here to tell you today that if you want to be successful you got to be willing to give up sleep.

You have to be willing to work off of three hours of sleep, two hours of sleep. If you really want to be successful, some day you’re going to have to stay up three days in a row because if you go to sleep you might miss the opportunity to be successful. That’s how bad you got to want it.

Listen to me. You’ve got to want to be successful so bad, you forget to eat.

Beyonce said one day she was on the set doing her thing and three days went by. She forgot that she didn’t eat because she was engaged.

I’ll never forget, when 50 Cent was doing his movie I did a little research on him and 50 said when he wasn’t doing the movie, he was doing the soundtrack. And they said: “When do you sleep, 50?”

He said: “Sleep? Sleep is for those people who are broke. I don’t sleep.” He said, “I have an opportunity to make a dream become a reality.”

Don’t quit. You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it! Don’t go to sleep until you succeed.

I’m here to tell you today that you can come here, you can jump up, you can do flips, you can be excited when we give out money but listen to me: You will never be successful until I don’t have to give you a dime to do what you do. You won’t be successful until you say:I don’t need that money because I got it in here.”

Related: ‘Pumping Iron’ inspires, decades after its release

Related: Schwarzenegger’s ‘Six Rules for Success’: Sage advice for all Americans

Related: CT Fletcher is correct: Over-training is a myth


    1. Thanks, aniwonder. Every once-in-awhile I listen to it to get myself in the right frame of mind.

      Thanks for taking the time give feedback. I appreciate it.

    1. I’m not sure who the narrator is, although the comments section over on YouTube would probably provide you with some clues. You might have to dig through many comments, but there’s a good chance someone has asked that very question. It’s a good one.

    2. Eric Thomas
      Renowned speaker, educator, author, activist and minister, Eric Thomas is rising to National prominence by delivering high energy messages that encourage people to live up to their full potential by breaking the cycles of crime, hopelessness and despair that many face daily. Known for his engagingly personal approach, his messages are both dynamic and inspiring. Formerly a high school dropout, he obtained his Masters degree in 2005 and is presently pursuing his PhD in Education Administration at Michigan State University. While consulting at Michigan State, he developed The Advantage Program, an undergraduate retention program targeting academically high-risk students of color. Eric’s representation of the merits of higher education, coupled with his knowledge of the pains of life, inspires people of all walks to break bad habits and reach for new levels of personal achievement.

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