People are Often Motivated by the Exception to the Rule, Not the Normal Outcome

What sometimes positively motivates people and other times negatively distracts them from reality is a magical device called The Exception to the Rule. A person who is uninspired to quit smoking because their grand maw is 92 years old, who has been smoking since she was 14 and healthier than most 60 year olds. The Exception.

A man who lost 30 lbs in 10 days from doing the Atkins Diet or a married couple who made a profit of $300K their first year of selling real estate after applying what they learned from a DVD. They’re an Infomercial’s dream come true. Helping the rest of us to naively focus on the Exception, overlooking the caption at the bottom of the screen: “Results not typical”. No kidding.

We often look at other people of similar demographics to compare ourselves to. The 30 year-old president of a company. The Exception both inspires and disappoints us. It would be one thing if this was a true illusion. But it’s real. And that is the problem and the motivation.

Humans are wired to look for The Exception. That’s something I have learned from writing almost daily for 4 years. If I write 2 pages about how Southerners are not represented positively in movies and TV without it being part of the comic allure or exposure to a strange regional culture, then I have to point out the Exceptions like the movies Reality Bites and Big Fish and the TV shows like King of the Hill and The Andy Griffith Show.

If I don’t, readers become distracted by trying to find the Exception. So I point out the Exception myself in what I write, to show that the general Rule I am introducing does have its Exceptions, but still it is still the Rule.

There will always be the Exception. That’s a Rule with no Exceptions. And if there was an Exception to that Rule, that would be the Exception.


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