A-Z Popular Blog Ambition Search »


Discipline vs Motivation

9 Examples of Determination

Determination is a firmness of intention whereby an individual doesn't easily give up on a goal. The following are illustrative examples.

Pull Motivation

Pull motivation is when an individual feels drawn to a goal such that it isn't difficult to direct energy and resources into it. For example, a dance student who is drawn to a music career such that they work long hours in this direction.


Self-discipline is the ability to push yourself to do things you don't feel like doing because you know you should. This almost always beats pull motivation as it allows you to push through hard times and boring tasks where pull motivation is likely to falter. For example, a student who has limited aptitude for math who pushes themself to study for long hours to get reasonable marks because they want to be an engineer.


Personal resilience is the ability to thrive in stressful circumstances. For example, a university student who completes their degree despite unexpected health problems that make everything far more difficult then they were expecting.

Trough Of Sorrow

The trough of sorrow is a difficult time of setbacks on the path to a goal. This period requires confidence in what you are doing as it will easily feel that your goals are out of your reach. Many will emerge from the trough of sorrow as a success whereby it becomes clear that they were closer to their goals then they ever realized. For example, Walt Disney took four years to produce Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and went three times over budget. In fact, its total cost of $1.5 million made it the most expensive cartoon ever produced. Many predicted it would bankrupt Walt Disney's production company. However, upon its initial 1937 release it earned around $6.5 million -- a smashing commercial success for this time. It went on to early a total of about $418 million over all of its releases and is still a well known film today that is regarded as a work of art and cultural icon†.

Failure Is Not An Option

The crushing thing about the trough of sorrow is that it can be difficult to tell if you are wasting your time or on the verge of a breakthrough. In this situation, it is common for determined individuals and organizations to adopt a failure is not an option approach. This resembles denial and is painful and expensive. For example, a military organization that invests in a new technology that simply doesn't work that keeps pouring more and more money into the project. This typically results in a pyrrhic victory such as an amazingly late, expensive and useless product that nonetheless is "successfully" launched.

Fail Well

I've missed over 9,000 shots in my career.
I've lost almost 300 games.
26 times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.
I've failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.
~ Michael Jordan as quoted in Nike Culture : The Sign of the Swoosh by Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson
People who are determined can and do fail. In fact, if you are determined it is probably a good idea to embrace failure and learn to do it well. Generally this means designing things to fail cheap, fast and safe so that you can learn and move forward without major losses. For example, a musician who tries to get a track released each week so that they can learn from the successes and failures of each song.

Knowledge of Performance

Knowledge of results is feedback about your performance irrespective of results. This is critical to pushing through the trough of sorrow and to recognizing failure. For example, an artist who is constantly seeking critical feedback who knows they are talented based on realism as opposed to overconfidence or naive optimism. This may occur long before reaching commercial success.

False Hope

False hope is a positive result that is not indicative of future results. This can cause inflated expectations and a sudden disappointment when you obtain more results. For example, a musician who begins their career with a hit who is unable to ever replicate a similar level of success. This is the opposite of the trough of sorrow but requires a similar type of determination to manage -- the ability to deal with failures in a reasonable away without falling into denial nor despair.


Intentions are targets for your behavior irrespective of results. It is generally better to direct your determination into intentions as opposed to end-goals. For example, a musician can have an intention to produce good music, to enjoy music and to collaborate with other talented musicians. This is a good way to direct your determination as opposed to a goal such as achieving a hit.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about ambition.
Comfort Zone
Silent Goal
If you enjoyed this page, please consider bookmarking Simplicable.


† Wilhelm, Henry, and Carol Brower. "The permanence and care of color photographs." Grinnell, EUA: The Preservation Publishing Company (1993).


The definition of ambition with examples.

Motivation Examples

An overview of motivation with examples.


The common types of goal with examples of each.

Customer Service Goals

Examples of customer service goals that use common metrics and measures.

Work Goals

Complete examples of common work goals.

Words To Describe Performance

A list of active verbs to describe work performance.

Words To Describe Goals

A list of active verbs for describing goals.

Goals Examples

Examples of realistic and measurable goals.

Leadership Objectives

The common types of leadership objectives.

Life Goals

A list of common types of life goals with examples.

New Years Resolution

A list of the common New Year's resolutions.
The most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.

New Articles

Recent posts or updates on Simplicable.
Site Map