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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Personal Inspiration

Self-discipline and motivation is hard sometimes.

Some mornings I wake up and it takes quite a bit of personal energy to push forward and get things done. I'm naturally and impulsively quite driven though, so I manage to find enough motivation to get through a day's work.

What's harder though is to have the self-discipline and motivation to continuously improve and development my skills, knowledge or personality. This is harder, because I think it's easy to be content about who we are. Which is totally a good thing, but sometimes it also just means we're in a bit of a comfort zone.

And for me, that's where that personal inspiration comes into place: having the inspiration to try new things, experiment, make new mistakes and learn. It's difficult to put yourself out there and take risks, if you don't have that inspiration that serves as the impetus to move outside of your current comfort zone.

I've been thinking about where I derive this inspiration from and most days, I can get that momentum and thrust I need from within myself: my heart, my passion and my ambition for my life. But as I mentioned above, this isn't always possible and on days when the entrepreneurial rollercoaster is on the down, I really struggle to "self-generate" this inspiration.

In thinking about this though, I realised that personal inspiration is everywhere around us. It's actually not something that's limited to a specific thing or space. You can literally find inspiration everywhere.

To explain to you why I believe that's the case, I need to share a somewhat, embarrassing, personal story. To set the "mood", I can tell you that the story starts with getting a Brazilian...

Four years ago, my wife & I started dating (we've been married for almost 3 years of that) and since the very first day, she has had an incredible influence on how I've transformed my life. This transformation has mostly manifested with very concrete evidence: my appearance.

Today, I (compared to 4 years ago):

  • Weigh about 40kg less;
  • I run 30km - 40km every week; and
  • I'm a tad obsessive about my diet.

(I also drink loads more red wine, but that's not the point.)

In the last 4 months, I've experienced another spurt of "getting even healthier" and I've lost almost 10kg. I'm also the fittest that I've ever been in my life. As part of this latest spurt, I've changed two other things: my wardrobe and my hair.

So here's the story about getting a Brazilian: This morning I sat down with my regular hairdresser for 2 years, to get a Brazilian straightening treatment done on my hair. See, I've always had really curly hair (genetics, pfff), which meant that my choice in how I want to wear my hair has been limited.

Secretly though, I've developed a total man-crush on Harvey Spector (in the TV show, Suits) and I've been trying to get my hair to look just like his. Just because I'd be a total bad-ass then too. The Brazilian has gotten my hair 90% there now. Not so sure about the bad-ass thing just yet...

Harvey Spector was totally the inspiration for this though. And it makes me feel good. I look at myself in the mirror and I feel great about myself and the hard work I've put into being healthier and looking better. At the moment, this is a big part of the self improvement that I'm doing.

It may seem weird to use a man-crush on a TV Show character as inspiration for self-improvement, but that's my point here: inspiration is everywhere. It's almost an "the end justifies the means"-kinda thing in that it doesn't really matter what inspires you, but just that you make sure that you are inspired.

And that you use that inspiration to keep making mistakes, learning & improving.

So whilst Harvey Spector is one of my weirder sources of inspiration, I wanted to share with you a few other people that inspires my drive for improvement in other aspects of my life:

  • I've said it a few times recently, but I have a huge passion for helping other entrepreneurs. I am however envious at the reputation that Hiten Shah has for helping other people and he's one of the most genuine, helpful and altruistic entrepreneurs that I know. I'd love to be more like Hiten in that sense.

  • PublicBeta has been partly inspired by Dan Martell and what he's building with He has such a huge vision for what he wants Clarity to be and the impact he wants to make on entrepreneurship worldwide. That's awesome. (This photo of Dan also totally inspires me to get me ass to the gym and work on my guns.)

  • Nathan Barry has recently been a great source of inspiration for writing more and after I read his book Authority, I totally decided to write my own. The result of that was my recently released e-book, Brandiing. To see Nathan taking his writing to the next level and using it as a major driver in his professional success, is more than inspirational.

  • My friend, Marc Perel, recently attempted (and almost succeeded) his own 30in30 challenge. Doing anything with that kinda commitment and consistency is impressive. As a runner myself, I wish I could do the same.

  • One of the biggest sources of inspiration in my life remains my mom. She's been a school teacher for 30-odd years and even though things have gotten really tough in the last couple of years, she continues to persevere, because it is her passion to work with kids. I would love to pursue my passion as diligently as this.

  • My wife is relatively new into business, but in the past year, I've seen her literally diving into the deep-end and she's just taught herself to swim on the way. Just surviving is fantastic, but the fact that she's looking like a semi-professional swimmer already is no mean feat. The fact that she changed careers to pursue this is a constant reminder to me that I should never find myself in the kind of comfort zone that becomes a rut.

  • Looking at how my 2-year-old son is developing and how curious he is about the things that I've long accepted as a given, inspires me to keep an open mind. Always. Instead of being so darn opinionated, stubborn or set in my ways, he inspires me to want to experiment and try new things (without historical prejudice).

The point I'm making here is that no one should ever have an excuse for not having the inspiration to improve. There's bucketloads of inspirations around us and most of the times, you don't even need to read a 300-page book.

I also think this is testament to the fact that we are the average of the people that surround us. Surround yourself with great people and the inspiration will be automatic.

In the end, we have one life and we might as just well swing for the fences. The way I'm doing that is by making sure that I'm inspired enough to keep making mistakes, learning from those and using it to exact a better outcome in future.

Be inspired.

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