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May 17 2010

Motivation & The Meaning of Life

Earlier today Jodi, the most wonderful HR professional in the world, was sharing some information with me in follow up to a question I had asked her.  As I'm scanning through it I see the official U.S. Government definition of "employee".  According to 29 U.S.C. Section 203(e)(1) the term "employee" means "any individual employed by an employer."  I'm not kidding.  You can't make this shit up.

So what's that got to do with motivation and the meaning of life?

Perhaps the only meaning in life is what we give it. Choosing something to be really great at, and giving it everything we've got. Getting up and getting to work at success instead of lying in bed dreaming about it.  And by becoming great at something we'll be motivated to keep at it.  And so goes the virtuous cycle.

But it's hard.  Motivation is so unpredictable.  It often seems not to be there when we need it the most.

That's why we can't wait to be motivated.  We have to make something happen.  Something that matters to us.  And when we do, we're motivated to make more of it happen.  It's a corollary to the defintion of "employee."  Motivation is what we feel after we make something happen that we weren't motivated to make happen in the first place.

It's really hard to practice our art every day, especially on those days where the resistance is so strong that that the only thing that feels right is lying in bed all day with a pillow over our head.

But that's what real artists do.  "Real artists ship", according to Steve Jobs.  They produce.  Not all masterpieces, of course, but they produce and they ship.  The unpublished idea, view, observation or opinion has no possibility of ever making a difference to anyone or changing the world in any way.