Eric McKibben
Mar 7, 2016 · 9 min read

Benjamin Hardy is a machine. He regularly cranks out articles that become top stories within hours of publishing them on Medium. He has a large subscriber base that grows each time he writes a new article. Simply put, he produces content that people want to read.

Not all of the attention that he receives is positive. Many people post derogatory comments on the articles that Benjamin writes.

It seems as though users of Medium either love Benjamin or they hate him.

The author of this article appears to be in the latter camp and argues that Benjamin must be stopped. He presents a number of reasons why readers should be wary of Benjamin’s content and why they should stop consuming it all together. The author certainly raises interesting points and has valid concerns.

I understand the author’s perspective. But that perspective, and the desire by many of Benjamin’s detractors, won’t stop him. He will succeed. He will continue to write. He will ultimately win.

Before I explain why Benjamin will win, I need to be completely forthright with you. Benjamin Hardy is my best friend. I love him dearly. Because he is my best friend, the perspective that I present is deeply biased. But I also believe that it is highly accurate. He doesn’t know that I am writing this article and has nothing to gain from it.

Winning in a Hostile Environment

My mentor wrote a book called “Winning in a Hostile Environment.” In the book, my mentor explains the characteristics of organizations that thrive in an environment where everyone wants to take them down. I thought that I would apply some of the concepts from my mentor’s book to explain why Benjamin Hardy will ultimately win.

Benjamin Hardy’s Personality

One of the driving forces of Benjamin’s writing is his personality. His personality is one of the things that I think makes him a beautiful person.

Benjamin has a characteristic way of looking at the world. He has a stable set of traits that shapes his perspective of the world around him. That is his personality. You, reader, also have a unique personality that colors how you make sense of your reality.

While everyone is unique, there are a set of personality traits that everyone possesses to some degree of another. These traits predict our behavior, our emotions, and to some degree even our success in life.

Benjamin Hardy is in Control

One of the defining features of Benjamin’s personality is that he has an internal locus of control. He believes that he is in control of his life. Because he believes that he is in control of his life, he perceives obstacles or barriers in his life as challenges to overcome. He works hard to shape his environment to suite his needs. He uses influence tactics to positively impact the situation for himself and everyone around him. Because he believes that he is in control, he also takes full responsibility for all of his behavior — positive and negative.

Having an internal locus of control is associated with a number of positive life outcomes including: greater financial success, health, happiness, and general well-being.

Many people have a trait that is opposite of Ben’s. They have an external locus of control. People with this personality trait believe that factors outside of their control ultimately influence their course in life. People with an external locus of control believe that things like having to work the night shift, being a single parent with small kids, or having a long commute is their lot in life. They believe that those situations control them. When people believe that their situation controls them instead of them controlling their situation, they are more likely to make excuses for their performance. They do not take personal responsibility for their actions.

Having an external locus of control is associated with more negative life outcomes. If you have an external locus of control and want to have more control over your environment, you can start by challenging your beliefs about how much personal control you have over situations. Find one small thing that you can influence to make your life a little easier.

Benjamin Hardy Isn’t Scared of Ambiguity

Benjamin has a high tolerance for ambiguity. He doesn’t get anxious when he isn’t sure what to do or how to behave in a given situation. He can think quickly on his feet and can see things from many different angles. He doesn’t need a rigid set of guidelines to direct him toward success. Instead, he figures out for himself the best course of action.

People with a low tolerance for ambiguity require a set of clear rules to guide their behavior. They don’t know how to operate when the situation doesn’t provide a set of clear rules to follow. Oftentimes, people with a low tolerance for ambiguity have trouble making sense of a world that is different from the perspective they are used to seeing.

Benjamin is a master at making things clear for people that have a low tolerance for ambiguity. Almost all of his articles clearly describe a problem and then explain how to overcome the problem. This is perfect for people that don’t handle ambiguity well. It creates problems for people that deal with ambiguity well because it forces them to take a single path when they can see many paths.

What Motivates Benjamin Hardy?

Benjamin Hardy is unstoppable because of the passion he has to be successful. He is extremely motivated to write and to grow and to see others grow as a result of his writing.

What drives Benjamin to win in a hostile environment is his personal mission. His mission is all about growth. It is about him growing personally and helping others to grow. Growth is his purpose in life. It drives him. It is what propels him out of bed in the morning. It is what keeps him up at night because he is too excited to fall asleep.

This type of motivation is called intrinsic motivation.

When you do something purely because of your love for the task you are intrinsically motivated.

Performing out of pure intrinsic motivation occurs very rarely in our society. Instead, we perform for many reasons other than love of the task. We perform because we perceive that it is our duty. We perform because we feel a sense of obligation or because we want to avoid feeling guilty. We also perform because we receive praise, adulation, or money for our behavior.

Become Unstoppable

Research clearly indicates that we invest more effort when we perform for intrinsic reasons. We persist when we face obstacles and hardly ever give up on something that we absolutely love doing. When we are intrinsically motivated to perform we aren’t stressed. We don’t procrastinate. We start immediately and don’t stop until we have accomplished the task. We are unstoppable.

How Benjamin Hardy Writes

The final reason Benjamin Hardy can’t be stopped has to do with his writing. Benjamin knows how to capture and hold the attention of his audience. He implicitly understands what drives our behavior. More importantly, he knows how to change our behavior.

You Think Value Drives Change, But You are Wrong

So many authors post very valuable content to Medium but end up frustrated because their content isn’t read. They are told that in order to get read there has to be value in their content. They are told that it is all about the value proposition. Unfortunately, that is wrong.

The evidence of this is all over the place on Medium. Every article that is posted to Medium has some inherent value. The author wouldn’t have taken the time to write and post the article if it had no value. I’ve read many very valuable articles on Medium that have gotten very little attention.

Let’s think about this is a slightly different context. Nearly anyone you ask will say that it is important to save money for retirement. They will say that they value living well in retirement. People say that they value their health. They value fitness. They value their family. They value their homes. Yet, many people don’t save as much as they should for retirement. They don’t eat as healthy as they say they desire. They don’t work out as often as they want. They don’t spend as much time with their family as they would like. They don’t make needed repairs to their home.

People don’t make decisions based on value alone! The value proposition is not sufficient to change people’s behavior.

Benjamin’s articles have value. People wouldn’t continue to read them if they didn’t have value. The value is there. The primary reason people are able to obtain the value in his articles is because Benjamin is a master at grabbing and maintaining the attention of his readers.

Attention is critical. If you cannot capture and maintain the attention of your reader then they will never see the value of your content.

Getting and maintaining attention is the very basis of motivation. It doesn’t just have to do with writing and reading articles on Medium. It has to do with everything in our life. When something has our attention we devote effort to it.

Think about it. When something truly gets your attention you make a change. When your father dies of a heart attack you start eating better and getting fit. With retirement just around the corner you begin to save in earnest. When your foot sinks through the rotten floor in your bathroom you make the repair. When your spouse threatens you with a divorce because you are always at the office you try to spend more time at home. Attention first, value second.

Why is Benjamin Hardy a Master at Grabbing and Maintaining Attention?

In order for something to capture and maintain our attention it must be linked with two very important beliefs. 1.) We must believe that we can accomplish the task or goal. 2.) We must believe that the outcome of our effort is certain.

The first belief is all about our confidence. If we aren’t confident we don’t engage. If we don’t engage we don’t change.

Benjamin helps his reader feel confident. He does this in at least two ways. All of his articles are incredibly easy to understand. He takes really complex ideas and turns them into simple, easy-to-understand how-to lists. He carefully constructs his writing so that it is always on a 7–8th grade reading level. Anyone with a middle school education can read and comprehend his writing. This dramatically increases the confidence of the reader.

He also expresses confidence in his reader. When an authority figure expresses confidence in us we are more likely to be confident our self.

The second belief is all about the certainty of the outcome. When an outcome is uncertain we are reluctant to invest effort. Over time we learn that some outcomes are more certain than others. Outcomes that occur immediately are certain. Outcomes that are delayed cause us to experience some degree of uncertainty.

In some situations we invest effort into a task and the expected outcome never arrives. When given the opportunity to do the same task again in the future, we are less inclined to engage because we are uncertain that we will receive the outcome we desire.

Desirable outcomes that lack certainty cause us to focus our attention on other tasks that provide more certainty.

In most of Benjamin’s articles he removes almost all doubt that a desirable outcome will follow, if one just invests effort.

Readers of his articles feel empowered because of their increased confidence and their belief that the outcomes they desire are certain. Because of this, he maintains his readers’ attention from the first word to the very last word written.

If you wish to change your own behavior or that of another person you need to make sure the goal gets every last ounce of attention. You do this by enhancing confidence and the certainty of the outcome.

Conclusion

Benjamin will continue to win because of his personality, his intrinsic motivation to help others, and by making the value of his content realized by grabbing and holding the attention of his subscribers. He is absolutely confident that he can write well and he is certain that his writing will bring subscribers. He shouldn’t be stopped. He cannot be stopped.

I am not Benjamin Hardy. You are not Benjamin Hardy. We are all unique individuals, but we can leverage our personality, our passion, and our understanding of human motivation to make real lasting change in our lives and in the lives of others!

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