alcramer [Alfredo Cramerotti]

Other motivations

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on November 18, 2008

That’s another snap at Mark McGuiness’s blog, which you can find here.
Extrinsic factors may have limited value as motivators but you can’t afford to ignore them — because they make excellent demotivators. Below some of these factors, which you – as a creative person – need to bear in mind, and possibly to implement in your profession.

Money: it is a clearly defined way of ‘keeping score’, measuring how highly regarded you are by your employer or your audience. Violinist Nigel Kennedy writes in his autobiography ‘I think if you’re playing music or doing art you can in some way measure the amount of communication you are achieving by how much money it is bringing in for you and for those around you’.

Recognition: the term ‘egoboo’ is used within the open source programming community, referring to the ‘ego boost’ you receive from being publicly credited for good work. So even though there’s no money involved, it’s not strictly true to say that open source programmers work ‘for nothing’. Poetry, or literature, is another creative medium with very little cash on offer, but which operates on a kind of ‘reputation economy’ — the higher your reputation, the more prestigious your publisher will be, the more magazines will want to take your work, the higher up the bill you will be on readings, etc.

Deadlines: as soon as you make a promise to someone else, you have an obligation to fulfil. Sometimes this can be just the push you need to get you through the wall of resistance that would otherwise lead to procrastination. ‘I know exactly what I need to do, but I’m more likely to do it if I’ve promised you do it by a certain date’. To get you going in the first place place, you sometimes need the extrinsic motivation of ‘deadline magic’.

There are probably other external motivations that come into the picture, but I believe the three above are the most essential ones. Also, very often they are those we encouter first, and only along the path other types of motivation may reveal to ourselves. (Such as those intrinsic, described in the previous post.)

Failure

Posted in shortEssays/cortiSaggi [English/Italian], Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on October 29, 2007

Since it makes uncomfortable, failure among our contemporaries has no space. No room for development. No room for address. Failure –in other words– should not exist, according to the present society. Do we feel the same? We shouldn’t, of course. Theoretically each of us allows a margin of failure in life. But maybe not this time, we tell ourselves…

We feel that if we fail here (and now), we could jeopardize our future credibility. For instance, from where I stand it’s impossible to talk about failure in a positive sense, nor develop a notion of failure, without suspicion for whom is reading and/or approaching me.

We set our expectations on a high level, and we don’t even consider the possibility of not achieving them: and this works also for the expectation in the others. If I say to you than this space about coaching creative people could be a failure in pursuing its goal, you get immediately on-guard.

Hence, what is important in any activity, professional or personal, for duty or leisure, for ourselves and the others, is to attempt to dispense with the error-phobia that envelop us in a perennial mist. Not only we are scared of failing, in physical and mental terms, sometimes we even set up mechanisms of self-censorship. We don’t even allow ourselves to think we could fail, and things could go wrong. What does exactly mean things could go wrong?

When we expect something from someone else or some situation, we want to enjoy the most of it. We get ideas; we plan them, put to work and enjoy the results. Still, the possibility to fail is not harming anything. Failure is a precious space where we can stretch our boundaries and experiment with another dimension of living. In this sense, failure is a vital component of our experience of life.

I bet most of you feel now the urge to ask why should we fail? It’s not that we should fail in order to live better. We should simply allow ourselves the space, the mental dimension, of failure. We live in a win-win society, where one cannot afford to step into something wrong. For instance, we cannot bear the thought to lose our time following someone or something, which in the end disappears and leave us alone. This can happen in love as well as business.

In our deeds we invest feelings, time, money, and precisely because it’s an ‘investment’ we expect something back. A return, some results. We cannot conceive an action freed from expected effects, freed from the obligation to avoid errors. It hurts us to see and to think about our failure. We can bear only someone else’s failure. And we don’t want to be that someone else.

There’s a school of thought arguing that there’s no right to fail, but a duty to experiment. Fine. Does it mean that an experiment cannot fail? Why do we take away the word ‘fail’? We fail in studies, jobs, loves. We fail permanently, as well as succeeding. In writing these lines, I’m probably failing to communicate exactly my thoughts to you, completely or to some extent.

I fail a lot, as well as not. And I fail sometimes because I’m overly generating, and couldn’t fit everything in place and in time. Other times because I wasn’t able to carry out a commitment, or didn’t feel like, and my project, or task, collapsed on itself for obvious lack of will, time and resources. Other times again, I fail because I initiated something already doubtful, and it went worse and worse.

And in some occasions I managed to successfully complete something totally different from what I started. Is that a failure?

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