Take arms against a sea of troubling apathy

In part 1, I talked about motivation from a personal history point of view, and how my own sources of impetus and how I react to them have changed and continue to change.  In this post, I want to talk more generally about these issues, and about why understanding their relevance to your morale affects how you approach work.

The thing about motivation, it seems to me, is that it infects every part of your work.

  • Your relationships with people are healthier
  • You can maintain focus on a task for longer
  • You are able to see further along the chain of consequences for any given choice, because you _care_ more
  • You are better able to sell your work, your product, your team
  • You are able to put yourself in the place of a user more effectively because you are motivated to understand how they use what you produce
  • And life outside work suddenly becomes easier.  Life is just simpler when work energises you rather than draining you.


Hell is other people, so the saying goes.  But people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.  So maybe work hell is needing people other than the ones you are surrounded with?  [What are you trying to say? - Ed.]  Personally, until my current position I never worked as hard for a product as I did for a person.  People are a huge part of motivation, and can be the only thing that makes work a pleasure.  Morale is a fickle thing, and chasing it for its own sake can often prove fruitless.  For me, morale is an emergent property of the interaction between a team and their goal(s).  Set the right goals for a team, and morale will rise high into those blue skies management are so fond of.  And it’s much easier to set goals for a product that’s exciting, right?


Engagement - distractions = focus.  So clearly, if the level of distraction remains constant, your ability to focus increases as your engagement with what you are doing rises.  As they say in Greece, γνῶθι σεαυτόν.  You are the best judge of how engaged you are, so long as you are being honest with yourself.


Caring about your product can translate into empathy for those who will use it.  This is invaluable when it comes to anticipating how users will respond to changes.  But you have to care not only about the product-as-it-is, but also the product-as-it-could-be.


Making good decisions requires anticipating the consequences of those decisions, so as to avoid learning what was a mistake through experience.  The more engaged you are, the more willing you will be to follow causal chains, and the better able you will be to make connections and follow the ripple of your action outwards.


Because you are more engaged, you care.  And because you care, you are in a better position to communicate -- you know more, feel more, think more.


Now, I am not saying that a good source of motivation is a panacæa. There will still be difficult problems that need clear, careful thinking to solve, and there may well be diversions and detours along the road to your destination.  But since joining DigitalBridge, I only have to look around me to see that everyone is working towards the same goal -- making the best product we can to solve the imagination gap problem the company was founded to address.  How helpful it is to know that there is an immediately accessible driver for your journey!  Step back; breathe; remind yourself _why_ you work.  If you love what you work on, you won’t need to look too far.


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