Mike O’Hearn and C.T. Fletcher Decipher Motivation vs. Passion

Motivation is external, passion is internal.

The ninth episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show on the Generation Iron YouTube channel featured powerlifter, bodybuilder, and owner of Iron Addicts Gym in Signal Hill, CA, C.T. Fletcher. O’Hearn opens the episode introducing Fletcher as “an O.G. guy” and continues an ongoing theme of the series: O.G. lifters in the fitness industry not putting on a facade of who they are in an age dominated by social media.

O’Hearn and Fletcher’s friendship spans three decades. O’Hearn interviews Fletcher about his longevity and mindset in the fitness industry, including continuing in the gym after his heart transplant in 2005.

When you’re used to being the man in the arena, you really cannot wait to display what you can do.

Check out the interview below:

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Fletcher’s view of adversity is to welcome it with open arms to prove you are the caliber of athlete you claim or aspire to be:

If you’re a true champion, you can’t wait for another good challenger to come along.

Fletcher believes that the best in a given sport or proving you’ve reached a goal is displayed through overcoming a challenge to that goal. Telling people your goals or imbuing a perception of greatness may work when trying to sell a product or service, but not when it comes to being the best in the game. To legitimately earn that title, one should seek the best to compete against.

O’Hearn sought advice for “the kids today” on how they can acquire a mentality of “beating the guy before you” that O’Hearn suggests he and Fletcher had when competing in powerlifting meets during the 80s and 90s. Fletcher echos O’Hearn’s view that younger lifters are pampered in the present day compared to how they trained. O’Hearn furthers the sentiment with another motif he has referred to throughout this series:

Education takes you only so far, experience finishes it.

O’Hearn suggests that he often sees people now skipping leg days rather than seeking the “grit of the heart” and seeing leg day as a fight. “Getting in tussles” is O’Hearn’s recommendation for improving one’s competitive drive.


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Fletcher filters the terminology of “seeking a challenger” to “fueling your passion.” The competitive spirit is not born from motivation but rather from passion. When O’Hearn asked for clarity on the difference between motivation and passion, Fletcher didn’t skip a beat:

Motivation is an outside source. Passion comes from within.

Motivations can change over time as goals evolve. Passion is the constant that helps athletes seek those motivations. Motivations are a short-term driving force that leads to some recognition or sense of reward for achieving success. Passion is the willingness to find new motivation once that previous success is found. Likewise, passion helps find new motivation in moments of failure.

O’Hearn and Fletcher strive for lifters to find a competitive spirit in their training programs. Maintaining the drive to continue lifting in the gym over the long term will always have more value in their eyes than a “flash in the pan” bout of success in a meet or bodybuilding show.

Featured image: @c.t.ali.fletcher on Instagram