What Came First? The Motivation or The Resources?

The Artist

In Malcom Gladwell’s latest, “Outliers,” he examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success, looking at how Bill Gates and others achieved their extreme levels of success through 10,000+ hours of dedication to their field.

As children, many of us want to be the influential figure to change our field of interest entirely, but as the book says, that takes years and years of dedication and hard work, with a little bit of luck being in the right place and the right time, to achieve. An interesting thing to look at though, is the role of motivation and resources in our accomplishments. I’m sure many of you experience a situation similar to my own every once and a while: I find a passion that I have (something like film) that I don’t necessarily do as much as I want to, and I tell myself that in order to really accomplish what I want to in film, I need to by a fantastic video camera and equipment to work out my dreams on the big screen. This doesn’t have to be something like film, but anything we feel like pursuing that we feel like we do not have the resources to practice such passions proficiently. This also applies in what you want to do as a career. You think you want to be something, but you don’t have the complete set of resources or experiences that someone else in the field may have, so we feel overwhelmed and in need of so much to be able to accomplish that initial jump into our passion. So, what do I do, but never end up getting my video camera, and never really pursuing my film hobbies.

Here’s an exercise, especially for those of you who have no idea where you really want to end up in life (like this guy here –> me). Take a look at the time you spend on different things throughout the day. Log your time for a few days, and then come to realize that you’re not focusing on the 8 hours you sleep, or the 1 hour you eat each day, but the time that you’re actually being/not being productive. What are you doing during those times? You may not realize it, but that can be a pretty unique indicator of what your passions are. Yeah, I’ve come to realize my real calling is reading e-mails and thinking of blog posts, but in all honesty, I want to be a product designer. When I’ve looked at the amount of time I’ve spent drawing, actually looking at manufacturing methodologies, or thinking of usability metrics, it’s not ALL that much. Would it be more if I had all the tools necessary, or if I had a job that was in product design? Not necessarily. I’ve come to find that most often, you have to have the passion for something and commit so much time and effort to it, much like Gladwell’s point, before you may even have access to the proper resources that make things even better.

Another interesting point is to look at growing up rich vs. growing up poor. People who grow up wealthy commonly have the access to those resources, but sometimes the passions get overlooked with where they put all their time. Those who are less fortunate, but maintain that high level of passion will keep trying until they succeed, overcoming their own challenges that society puts them through. I don’t remember the last  movie that came out capturing the true story of a wealthy child growing up to continue and be wealthy, but not really pursuing anything, because money caught the child up instead of letting the passion seep through. We see movies of struggle from hardship to ultimate success. Pursuit of Hapiness and others capture the light of coming from many of the worst possible circumstances to find not only a passion, but a way of life, and the acceptance of the world around them. This is how I know I’ll never have a movie made about me. I’m fortunate enough to not have struggled. This shouldn’t stop us, however, from making that movie our life. We all have our struggles, and in order to accomplish our goals, we need to have that vigorous passion that enables us to achieve anything without necessarily the proper tools or access to the right people.

This isn’t supposed to be read like an inspirational piece or unrealistically motivating work, but more of a realistic look at why we accomplish some things and not others, and how we can recognize where our passion really lies and how our time spent on different things all day is much different than where our time could be spent.

~ by trentgillaspie on January 9, 2009.

One Response to “What Came First? The Motivation or The Resources?”

  1. Not bad. Thoughtful.

    Question – what happens when you ask: “What do you want?” and consequently try to answer that with action steps to get it?

    Hm. The debate rages on.
    Glad to have texttalked to you today Mr. President. You always make me smile.

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