What keeps Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson motivated? Remembering the hard times.

“Before a big movie comes out, […] I just remind myself: I was evicted when I was 14, we were kicked off the island, we couldn’t live in Hawaii, had no place to live, a lot of shit happened when I moved to Nashville, I was arrested multiple times before I was 16 years old,” he told the Los Angeles Lakers at an event for the basketball team’s “Genius Talks” series. “I remember that.”

In the speech, The Rock explains how this thought process keeps him in the present moment. “Holy sh*t, the stuff I have around me right now, this is the stuff I dreamed of as a kid.”

When he played football for the University of Miami, one of his teammate wanted to take his spot on the field. They battled, and Johnson lost the spot he wanted. It crushed his dreams during his senior year. He moved to the CFL, barely making ends meet, and was then cut from the Canadian league. He ended up broke, with literally $7 in his pocket.

Staying motivated when you’ve reached comfortable levels of success

“What helps me is to keep the hard times in the front of my mind because it allows me to go into these big moments that I worked my ass off to get with a different perspective,” he said in the speech.

“What it also does for me is that I keep my back against this motherf*cker [points to wall] because it’s what I believe in. And when my back is against this motherf*cker then there is nowhere else to go but [forward].”

The Rock likes to use the wall analogy because as a successful Hollywood actor, he is not struggling anymore. And putting himself in the mindset where he feels he has his back against the wall keeps him on his toes and encourages him to keep moving forward.

“It doesn’t mean you don’t smile, laugh and joke. But when it comes to business, and when it comes to executing, it’s up against [the wall]. And I’ve gotta go [forward]. And I don’t [care] who is in front of me, they’re not gonna stop me.”

Watch the full speech here (it starts at 02:20):