I’ve heard many ultra-successful people explain this in many different ways. This is not a prescription.
Highly successful people are driven by deep-rooted insecurity.
If you feel adequate, fully whole, and comfortable, then you have absolutely no reason and hence no (necessary) drive to excel to the extremes.
The law of conservation of energy applies to all domains of life. It states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only converted from one form to another. Human beings feel all types of emotions, some more so than others. This is a misunderstood motivational skill to understand and know how to use.
Being able to willfully place yourself in a mindset to extract dormant negative energy effectively is advantageous. For example, my closest friends and family members have never seen me angry or stressed, and those feelings almost never burden me. But they are natural human emotions. I consciously use that dormant negative energy whenever I lift weights at the gym.
I essentially command what feels like a boost of adrenaline, in a healthy way, for a short burst of physical amplification. This also puts me into an intensely focused mindset. Without this, I would not be as fit as I am today.
Highly successful people have something similar to this, except it’s a lot more extreme, perhaps even involuntary, and it’s switched on 24/7 365.
There is a reason that when someone is comfortable and satisfied, they will not change. Why would you? You’re in a good place and you want to retain that. However, when you are uncomfortable, then you feel like something must change. That’s when you quit your job, break up with your significant other, move cities, etc.
Highly successful people have a sort of trauma or hole in them that they feel needs to be filled. While there could be many ways to try and fill that hole, highly successful people do that by chasing extraordinary accomplishments. This becomes more than a want, but a need. They will work harder, sacrifice more, and risk more for their reasons. They are driven by something that no comfortable person can compete with. They run on a different type of fuel.
This is extreme and should not be emulated. Success doesn’t require this. But this is the dark truth about highly successful people, the 0.000001%.