Excerpts, Good Reads

Scott Berkun: How to Stay Motivated

To achieve demands discovering personal motivations and learning to use them. The masters in all fields are foremost great self-manipulators, orchestrating their will to achieve what the rest of us can not. However, since our minds are the only ones we see from the inside out, there can be no true handbook for motivation: only a treasure map of landmarks and a handful of bones to roll.

And so Scott Berkun introduces us to his latest essay: How to stay Motivated. Given that I am in one of those special periods where I am the principal arbiter of how I spend my days, I find that his essay is especially timely. And given that he had the moxie to leave work some years back to devote his passion to writing, I am inclined to trust his advice. He’s got some zingers:

Crazy Necessity: “If you don’t ask, or never get crazy in any way, at any time, you’re the only one to blame: no one else can pull the pin out of the grenade in your soul.”

Fun: “Take time to listen to the little voice, the voice of your 8 year old self, the voice adults, including yourself, interrupt and speak over, and you’ll discover what you love. You might need long walks alone, or solo travel, long stretches of time where you make every single decision for 144 hours, before you’ll hear it, but it’s there. If you know how to have fun (by yourself if necessary) you’ll always be motivated to do something.”

Lately, I have been thinking to myself that, “I want to be a good parent to my inner child.” This means acknowledging and loving that child within, and then paying attention to his fancies, and giving myself some room to indulge. This, of course, must be tempered with some adult-style “Okay, that would be a lot of fun too, but we need to get these chores done and finish this other thing.”

The Discipline: Whenever you find yourself unmotivated, run the list of feelings and questions of likely motivations and see which ones get your heart rate going. It takes discipline to seek motivation when feeling unmotivated, but that’s the difference between commitment to a craft, and beer fueled fantasies.

Amen, Scott.

In my corner of the world, I have been reading up on Ruby on Rails and finishing (Berkun’s) “The Myths of Innovation” . . . and I have two slender books on the way, “The Rational Guide to IT Consulting” (recommended by Haidong) and its cousin, “The Rational Guide to IT Project Management” . . . I have some ideas of things I want to pursue, and a hope that I should have something more interesting to show before long, so that when I find a job opportunity I really really want, I will have something exciting to show for it.

I should soon act upon this advice:

Pride: Have no critics? Set a goal for yourself you’re not sure you can meet. Write it down, sign it, post it on your bedroom wall, showing it to friends and family so there’s no way to sneak out the back door.

Stay tuned . . .

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Categories: Excerpts, Good Reads