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Don’t Leave Your 2021 Goals to Your Future Self

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The Motivation Manifesto - critical summary review

The Motivation Manifesto Critical summary review
Self Help & Motivation

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 1451667728

Publisher: Hay House Inc.

Also available in audiobook, download now:


Critical summary review

Have you ever felt like you’re not in control of your life? Have you ever felt like you’re going nowhere and you want to do something about it but can’t figure out where to start? Have you ever felt like you’ve lost all motivation to chase your dreams and attain the life you desire, the life you most probably deserve? And why do we feel that your answer to all of these questions is a tentative “yes”? “A vibrant, genuine, and purposeful life is the right of all humankind,” Brendon Burchard reminds us in the first sentence of his immensely memorable 2014 book, “The Motivation Manifesto.” 

A deafening call to reclaim your life and personal power, Burchard’s highly poetic manifesto imitates the style of the revolutionaries and visionaries of the past so as to rekindle the fire in your heart and infuse your soul once again with the joy and passion of early childhood. Get ready to heed the call! Get ready to give a hearty response to Burchard’s appeal, a response not only of approval, but of earnest cooperation. Get ready to declare your right to be free and independent and prepare to ascend to another level of existence through nine solemnly powerful declarations!

On human nature: freedom, fear, and motivation

As French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and the existentialists enjoyed saying, the majority of us are not living authentic lives. Meaning, most of us do not act in accordance with our own desires, motives, ideals and beliefs, but are instead compliant with those of the people around us. Our lives, simply put, are not an expression of who we really are, but an expression of who the world expects us to be. Burchard provides a nice analogy to illustrate this point, writing, “We are lions and lionesses living as mice: rather than exploring free on the savanna, we are living small and distracted lives” in the burrows and hideaways of the vast, vast world. 

Even though our hearts are filled with “a ferocious passion for life,” we allow ourselves to be chained by social restrictions and the gazes of others to the point of apathy and indifference. Unable to fully express our own personalities, we spend most of our time sitting and sulking, “blaming and complaining, chasing after paltry goals that cheat the magnificence of our being.” And at night, we burn with desires and dreams of a better tomorrow. At the base of all of our desires there lies one that rules them all – the desire for freedom to choose and actualize our desires. Hence, as Burchard writes, “Humankind’s main motivation is to seek and experience Personal Freedom.”

In other words, we all want to be free from “the restrictions of social oppression and the tragic self-oppression that is fear.” This is the ultimate narrative of humankind: “the quest for more freedom and the related struggles to ascend to higher standards of living and relating.” Unfortunately, the main antagonists in the story, Fear and Society, have repeatedly ripped us from our independence and our very few shots at living genuine and authentic lives. When all is said and done, there can be only one victor: it’s either Fear or Freedom that will remain in the end. The good news is that you get a say in the outcome. 

“Fear rules us only if we let it,” writes Burchard. “We alone are responsible for our emotions and reactions in life.” Well, it’s time we took the reins in our hands. It’s time we chose courage over anxiety, and liberty over peer pressure and social tyranny. It’s time we turned away from the worriers, the weak-willed, and the wicked of our world, and it’s time we enriched our lives with “a heightened sense of genuineness and joy in our being.” It’s time we claimed our personal freedom. It’s time for Burchard’s nine bold declarations!

No. 1. We shall meet life with full presence and power

There is something scarier than death, and it is detachment from living. Unfortunately, that’s how most of us go through life: disconnected from what’s happening to us at the moment. Forgetting that life only occurs in the present, we get stuck in the hurts and joys of the past or waste our lives dreaming about a future that might never come. Stop doing that: all that you love of life can be accessed only here and now! Rather than allowing yourself to be cast by chance and social tyranny, choose your life’s role proactively and smartly. At any given moment, Burchard says you can play one or a combination of the following vital roles:

  • Observer. The conscious, self-aware, and careful watcher of life. 
  • Director. The intentional creator of life, the one who sees life as a movie and tries to shape a compelling and meaningful story.
  • Guardian. The protector of the mind, body and soul from all those “unwanted contaminants” like negative information, people and habits.
  • Warrior. The bold, fierce, and unrelenting chaser of dreams, willing to kill the dragon and bring back treasure and glory.
  • Lover. The one who cares and contributes, the one who never forgets for whom we are fighting for.
  • Leader. The one who directs others; the motivator, the uplifter, the inspirer.

“Inattention to these possible roles leads to a life without intention,” warns Burchard. “But bringing our awareness to them helps us activate our full personal power in each moment. It brings purpose to our minds and activities. And purpose is the greatest bridge to Now.”

No. 2. We shall reclaim our agenda

There are essentially two main ways to live your life: either by being an extra in someone else’s story or by being the protagonist in your own. Burchard’s second declaration is about the latter. Why would you waste your days, he asks, “meandering about or marching under the banner of someone else’s ambitions”? It’s time you reclaimed your agenda. It’s time you rewrote the story of your life.

Ask yourself, right away, whether you are currently on the right path and whether you’re moving forward toward what you desire. If the answer to these two questions is “no,” then it’s time to get serious. Make yourself known! Tell the world what you want and how you intend to get it. Write your own personal manifesto and start pursuing it with “real force, will and consistency”!

Be clear, direct and dedicated to your own progress. Take command of your life by setting for yourself a new and proactive course and by committing to it. Unless you map your future today, you’ll eventually get lost in the fog of tomorrow. You’re not busy, you just don’t have a plan. Make one. Today.

No. 3. We shall defeat our demons

“A person who doubts himself,” wrote famous French writer Alexandre Dumas a century and a half ago, “is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself.” Doubt is one of the three serpent heads of the Demon of Defiance, a fierce foe that works against you while living inside your heart. The other two heads are Delay and Division. Whereas Doubt questions our worth and course of action, Delay breeds indolence, and Division closes the mind and heart. Thereby, writes Burchard, “in one creature, we find the cause of most human misery; for it is the lack of certainty, activity, and humanity that derails our destiny.”

Fortunately, there are ways to fight the Demon of Defiance. Rather, there are ways to tame each of its three aspects. Here’s how:

  • Transform doubt with faith. Doubting begins to prevail in our lives when it becomes incarnate in language, more precisely in the phrase, “What if….” That’s the moment when it’s most vulnerable. Conquer it with faith. Say, “I believe in my ability to learn and figure things out.”
  • Transform delay with action. Delay aims to “stop our advance by poisoning us with apathetic and resigned thought.” Whenever we want to make a move, “Wait,” it shouts from deep within our hearts. “Stop right there! You’re not ready! You’ll end up hurt!” The antidote of Delay is decisive Action. That’s what being a hero essentially is – taking action even when you’re afraid. Courage doesn’t precede action: it is earned through courageous acts.
  • Transform division with love. Division is the third and last head of the Demon of Defiance. It is an eyeless, jet-black serpent head whose poison can have the effect of making us blind to the good in others. That’s because Defiance doesn’t only want us to suffer – it also wants us to suffer alone. There’s only one way to fight Division – and it is with Love. Love, says Burchard, is “always the final and most complete cure to our inner demons.”

No. 4. We shall advance with abandon

The power to advance with abandon begins with developing “a mindset for real momentum. And the first mark of such a mindset is the belief that reality is bendable to our will. “Those who lack this belief,” warns Burchard, “never  advance with great power and constancy.” It’s only the small among us that believe our reality is unchangeable; that’s why they remain small. The free and courageous people have known since the dawn of civilization that every reality had been shaped by someone before them. So, they choose to shape it for the ones that follow them. That’s why we consider them great. That’s why we know their names when we’ve all but forgotten our own.

There is a nice little story by Spanish writer Jorge Luis Borges in which the main character, an imprisoned novelist, judges other people’s works in their published form and his own as he had imagined them. That’s what we all do, don’t we? However, our intentions and ideas mean nothing if they aren’t transformed into deeds and projects. Action, says Burchard, is the yardstick of character – it’s what reveals our true self, what can move us to mastery. Small people don’t do anything because they don’t want to impose; great men and women rarely seek permission from the world. Rather, they bend reality to their will. That’s how they advance with abandon. That’s how the world advances through them.

No. 5. We shall practice joy and gratitude

For billions of years, life on Earth existed only in simple forms. And then, for billions more, it existed in complex forms not aware of themselves or the world around them. In the grand scheme of things, it was only recently that consciousness appeared. And as far as we know, we humans are the only living beings in the history of our planet able to understand this – or anything else, for that matter. We are, to paraphrase famous astronomer Carl Sagan, the universe becoming aware of itself. We should be profoundly grateful for this and joyous at the very opportunity we have been granted to be here, to freely roam the Earth, to experience everything and everyone, and pursue the meaning behind it all.

“A vibrant and happy life begins at the path of gratitude,” notes Burchard. So, be thankful – for the sky and the sun, for your last night’s rest, for your home and your daily bread, for “the heart that drums life through you.” Be thankful for the good people you’ve met and will meet, for the friends who cherish you, for your beautiful lover who sees, for so long, past your faults and shortcomings. Be thankful, just as well, for your pains and sufferings, for they are our best teachers. Try to take pleasure in small things. Embrace a sense of wonder. Be curious. Be joyful. 

No. 6. We shall not break integrity

Integrity, as defined by Wikipedia, is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to a code of moral or ethical principles and values. As defined by Burchard, integrity encompasses the alignment of character, connections and contributions to one’s true, authentic self. To achieve this congruence, you must choose the following six life practices:

  • Think before you act. Failing to ask yourself if your choices are congruent with your ideals before making an important decision or acting upon something usually leads to regret and frustration.
  • Never commit to anything where we lack passion. Stop wasting your life by saying “yes” to everything. Commit to something only if you’re passionate and enthusiastic about it.
  • Keep your word. Be reliable and trustworthy. If you promise something, stick to your promise no matter what. As Canadian poet Robert Service wrote once, a promise made is a debt unpaid; and integrity comes in very limited quantities.
  • Always treat others with respect. There is a difference between respect and approval. You should approve the actions of a few; you should, however, respect everyone.
  • Tell the truth. To lie to others is to lie to yourself. That’s why, as Burchard writes, “The man who lies today is haunted tomorrow.” Even when they come with short-term gains, the long-term cost of a lie is embarrassment and misery. Tell the truth.
  • Always favor action. Integrity isn’t found in intentions, but in actions that support your genuine desires and values. When in doubt – do. In most cases, any action is better than no action.

Departing from these six practices of integrity is dangerous. It will make you weak in the darkest moments and you won’t be able to properly react to any of the following things: impatience, disappointment, desperation, aggression, hurt, loyalty, and power. Those are the seven temptations. Know them so that you can resist them.

No. 7. We shall amplify love

For Burchard, “There is no beauty in the world more perfect, more awe-inspiring, more human and transfixing than unfiltered, unashamed love.” Could anyone disagree with him? Even the New Testament claims that of the three things that will last forever – faith, hope, and love – the greatest is love. And that’s a book whose very foundation is faith.

There is nothing more powerful than love. It is our origin and our final destination, the thing that makes ordinary things magical and magical things – transcendent. It is what transforms and unites, what breaks boundaries and animates souls. It is what opens hearts and heals wounds, what makes living worthwhile and what makes humans celestial, feathery, blissful, divine.

Love is ever-present. Whenever it’s not, it’s because we’ve allowed our awareness of it to diminish. True, there will be hurts and pains along the way, but they have nothing to do with love; love is their antidote. Practice it and amplify it. Like everything else, it goes beyond intentions and ideas. Love is not a noun, but a verb. It is not something you want to do in the future, but something you are already doing in the present. Start. Immediately and without conditions.

No. 8. We shall inspire greatness

By definition, greatness entails going beyond your ordinary capacities, and moving out of your comfort zone to take on the world and face whatever challenges may come your way. On an individual level, greatness can only be achieved if one dares to rise above mediocrity. To inspire collective greatness – something our world is in dire need of – you must start demanding from others the same you demand of yourself: “a ready willingness to be excellent in our service to the world even when it becomes tiresome and difficult.” More specifically, you must demand from yourself and others the following nine virtues of greatness:

  • Honesty. Be uncompromising regarding truth. If someone lies, call it immediately. It’s not rudeness, it’s candor. 
  • Responsibility. Encourage accountability and obligation in the people you know. Many people today favor ease over duty. However, that causes unnecessary pain and suffering in the long run. Prevent that.
  • Intelligence. Ignorance may be bliss for the ignorant, but it’s misery for the rest. Celebrate wisdom. Inspire others to knowledge.
  • Excellence. Strive for the highest levels of work and achievement in all that you do. That way you’ll earn the right to scold the ones who don’t. 
  • Courage. Once you’ve defeated your own fears, begin instilling that same strength in those around you. “The world’s fate lies with the number of its people dedicated to courageous action,” writes Burchard.
  • Respect for others. When it comes to interhuman connections, nothing is more nurturing than respect. In the absence of respect, neither empathy nor fairness would be possible. Even love needs respect to grow.
  • Vigilance. There are always dark shadows looming around every healthy cause. So, pay attention. However, don’t be paranoid. Great leaders remain calm even in the face of immediate threats and danger.
  • Service. With one small exception, the world is made of other people. Serve them so that they can serve you. Remember Jesus at the Last Supper, washing the disciples’ feet. There’s a lesson there for every leader of the world.
  • Unity. The Romans knew very well that the best way to conquer an enemy was by way of discord. That’s still true today, in almost every sphere of life. So, remind others that they are never alone. After all, whatever it is, we are in this together.

No. 9. We shall slow time

Life is made of time and time is a finite resource. Yet, most of us go through life as if blessed with immortality. There’s a reason why the samurai warriors of ancient Japan believed that the best reminder to live was a constant awareness of death. Indeed, the only way to appreciate the moment you’re currently experiencing is by understanding and accepting its fleeting nature.

“We are not supposed to miss this moment,” states resolutely Burchard. “Our brain was not built for this frenzy, forced to focus on everything yet nothing, sped up and buzzed out by syrups and stimulants, crammed with so much random negative information and so many pointless tasks that there is never a singular focal point to immerse in or achieve or celebrate.”

Missing this moment is not that different from missing your life – because life is made of moments. The more of them end up “blurred by speed and worry and panic,” the less life makes sense and the more it is devoid of joy and gratitude. Change that by shifting your focus from the chaos of the world and back to yourself and your own heart. You’ll see that time flows far more slowly there than in the busy streets in front of your office.

Slow it further. Start with your breath: the longer and deeper you breathe, the more heightened your energy and presence is, the more awakened your senses become, and the more enjoyable the experiences that come after should be. Strangely enough, the more something takes time the more it gives a feeling that there is a lot of time. In fact, that’s why time moves fast for us: we run through life, like beasts merely scanning the surroundings in fear. Stop. How else would you smell the roses?

Final notes

In the words of the world’s favorite inspirational novelist Paulo Coelho, “’The Motivation Manifesto’ is a poetic and powerful call to reclaim our lives and find our own personal freedom. It’s a triumphant work that transcends the title, lifting the reader from mere motivation into a soaringly purposeful and meaningful life. I love this book.” 

Allow us to agree with Coelho, while being far less eloquent than him: we love it, too! And we feel that you will as well, especially if you’re looking for something to rekindle the long-lost passion in your heart and make you hungrier for love and life! But, then again, who isn’t?

12min tip

If you want to fully express your personality, strive to experience personal freedom. And if you want to achieve that, then conquer fear and social oppression.

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Who wrote the book?

Brendon Burchard is one of the most successful and highest-paid online motivation trainers in history. He is also one of the best known and most influential leaders in the field of personal growth. According to Forbes, he has so far t... (Read more)