AMP Up Your Life

Key Takeaways

  • Not feeling fulfilled? Seek the Autonomy to do what you want, the willingness to Master what you pursue and the sense of Purpose to keep you on the right path.
  • Research shows that after $75,000 a year, earning more money is not as important to most people as the intrinsic purpose of life.
  • Borrow a page from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh: “Failure isn’t a badge of shame; it’s a rite of passage.”

CBS Sunday Morning recently did a short feature story on Grandma Moses, the renowned American folk artist who didn’t start her painting career until age 72. It reminded me of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, who didn’t start his global fast-food empire until he was in his 50s. Think about that if you’re getting bounced around from job to job as the digital world takes over and you’re wondering what to do next.

Are you familiar with AMP (Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose)? It’s a notion that Peter Diamandis uses in his book Bold to explain the relationship between money and happiness in all stages of life. Autonomy is really about your desire to steer your own ship. Mastery is about steering it well. Purpose is about why you’re going in the direction you’re going. So how do these three elements apply to the real world?

I occasionally watch the reality show Gold Rush, which is about gold mining in the Yukon. One of the lead characters is a young man up in the Klondike who’s been mining for gold since age 15 and learned early on how to drive trucks, bulldozers and other heavy equipment. By age 20, he was running his own claim, supervising men who are two and three times his age. It’s just amazing. This young man is super driven and knows exactly what he wants.

Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman conducted a famous study of money and happiness. He found that the more money you make, the happier you are—until you get to about $75,000 a year. After that, happiness and life satisfaction start to diverge. Why? Because the extrinsic value of money becomes less important to most people than the intrinsic purpose of life.

Taking it a step further, in his best-selling book, Drive, author Daniel Pink deconstructs three basic drives we have:

  1. Biological. Taking care of ourselves.
  2. Reward and Punishment. That’s the classic carrot-and-stick approach familiar to those of you working in corporate America. The rewards for making more money (or penalties for not doing so) are often not enough to incentivize you to work harder.
  3. Self-Direction. The desire to direct our own lives.


This whole thing about AMP, having the autonomy to do what you want, doesn’t mean anything unless you can master it. But in order to master something, you have to be willing to fail from time to time. Don’t let that dissuade you. As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says, “Everybody’s afraid of failure. Failure isn’t a badge of shame; it’s a rite of passage.” So get on with what you really want to do in life.

Until next time, enjoy.

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