I’ve been living more than 15 years in Los Angeles now and many things changed during that time: technologies, mindsets, economies, businesses – you name it. One dramatic change for me has been the dramatic division within the country.

Why? Politics. 24-hour news channels.

Who benefits? Both. Not the people, just some politicians and news organizations.

When I look back 15 years from now, will there be another dramatic change? Yes, pretty much the same. More division.

The “Us versus Them” strategy builds brand loyalty.

You see it in politics. Sports. Marketing: Apple vs. PCs. Ford vs. Toyota. Giving people rocks to throw at enemies is a good persuasion tactics. Just ask cults, they perfected this tactic.

Hippies thought “the system” was to blame. As a teenager, we blamed our parents. When you grow up, your boss might become the enemy, or the spouse, the kids, the government – EVERYBODY.

Enemies don’t have to be real. They can be just ideas. When you start your own business, the enemy is working for somebody else. A point of view can become an idea. An opinion. Your weight. Your connectedness.

Regardless of what it is, this tactic is everywhere now. Everybody is deploying it now. It works.

But what happens when you win?

What happens when the old boss is no more? When your weight disappears? When your commute suddenly takes 50 minutes less? You guessed right – you need a new enemy. Real successful people only compete with one person: themselves.

In his prime, Tiger Wood beat everybody. But his real struggle was to fight his own laziness, to constantly improve his game.

Michael Jordan.

Steve Jobs.

The “Us vs Them” tactic only goes so far. Once you’ve overcome the real or imagined enemy, you have to come up with new ones. External motivation is not a bad thing, it just limits your potential.

Instead, brands need to continuously challenge themselves to do more, to do better. That means setting goals, and upon reaching them set newer ones that are further away.

Intrinsic motivation will always beat external motivation. It’s sustainable. It’s effective. And so much more rewarding.