Everything that gave her pleasure was small and depressed him.
– “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” Flannery O’Connor
When I first read that quote, it made me laugh. Then, it puzzled me. It made me question myself*, because most things that give me pleasure are small: a flaky pastry, a smooth cup of coffee, the smell of dew on a cool summer morning.
On the rare occasion that I’ve played an online game that awards badges, I didn’t care a whit about the little digital trophies. But on my blog? I get a jolt of glee every time one pops up on my phone. They totally motivate me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about drive lately, and in fact am reading the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us on the recommendation of a friend and colleague. I would classify myself as an intrinsically driven person. I often get so wrapped up in creating, whether writing, blogging, photographing, or working on my reading project, that I have to actively pull myself out of my own head and pay attention to my family and life.
Nobody is giving me anything for my writing, blogging, or photographs. I do them because I can’t not do them. I identified immediately with this statement the author makes in the early pages of Drive:
Enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on [a] project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver.
At the same time, at work we’ve been discussing intrinsic vs. external motivation, and what it means to want external validation for a job well done. I find this discussion fascinating because of this key question: does a desire for external recognition indicate that a person is not sufficiently driven internally?
It seems paradoxical that someone who is driven from the inside would need recognition from the outside, but I am a walking example that it’s possible to enjoy both. My husband teases me about my love of praise. What can I say? I respond to positive re-enforcement.
Like “You’re on a streak!” trophies.
Internal drive and external appreciation do not have to be either/or, and they are not at odds with each other. Instead they work together to create a positive feedback loop. Even if it’s a simple digital badge. When I see that streak badge, I’m like, “Hell yeah! I’m kicking ass!” and I am inspired to keep posting.
*And that man in the Flannery O’Connor quote who was depressed by his mother’s small pleasures? I realized after finishing the story that he was the questionable one.
Note: on publication of this I will be on a 14 day streak. YEAHHH!
7 thoughts on “Motivation”
Keep ’em coming, we sure enjoy reading them. We bought two Flannery O’Connor collections @ B&N yesterday, Mom’s visited the Georgia Writers Museum in Eatonton and saw a couple of her letters. I was never exposed to her in my youth, didn’t think I’d enjoy her works, but your blogs have inspired me. Keep up the good work!
Very thought provoking post. It’s intriguing in the way that it makes me question in what way I am driven. The introductory quote also just made me purchase the book on my kindle. I am looking forward to indulging in it over the weekend. Thank you. P.S. Congrats on your 14 day streak 🙂
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I am new to WordPress and your blog was recommended to me. I read your post and it was very motivational i was wondering if you could check out my blog . Its nothing compared to yours but you know I might as well try.
Positive reinforcement rules!!!
The most fulfilling experience for me is one in which I am intrinsically motivated to do it in the first place and then the icing on the cake is the pat on the back. Research has shown, however, that if we offered a reward for something we are doing and want to do anyway, that most people lose interest and decrease productivity. We humans are such bundles of contradictions!
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The book is on my shelf waiting. I’m just not motivated to read it yet. You may have caused a change in my motivation though. I’m curious now. I’ve never had outside validation so always function from internal drive. Very thought provoking.
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The book is worth the read if we are talking about “Everthing that Rises Must Converge.”
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