The Motivation Behind Work

I’ve wanted to write this post since last Friday when I attended one of my favorite Creative Mornings events to date. I considered waiting until the video of the talk is made available online so that I can link it, but my thoughts are fresh and don’t want to wait. (If you’re interested in viewing the talk, check the website later this month, sign up for the newsletter, or follow @CM_Louisville on Twitter.)

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Tyler Deeb, a local designer and founder of Misc. Goods Co, spoke on the topic of Work. He shared his experience as an artist and the stages through which his life and work have progressed. He was also open about the role his faith has played in his work. I was able to relate to his story, even though we don’t work in the same industry; that, to me, is what makes a great Creative Mornings talk.

Let me share a few quotes that I responded to:

“Our egos remove joy.”

“If my insecurity is the motivation for my work, then I’ll never be satisfied.”

Throughout his talk, I found myself nodding my head and having a lot of “me too” moments. For better or worse, I’ve gone through life as a perfectionist. Perfectionism is about being perceived as capable, high achieving, even “better than,” and perfect. Academically, I always pushed myself to succeed, to get assignments completed faster than my peers and to get a better grade. It was less about the learning process than the achievement. More recently, as a yoga instructor I’ve felt driven to teach any class that comes way, not to gain experience, but to be able to say that I teach X number of classes each week. I had a difficult time giving up my regular class at the studio because I felt I had earned it, and absolutely wanted to have my name printed on the schedule. I didn’t want to be perceived as incapable or as if I had given up.

Please know that this thought process is not necessarily conscious, and it’s only been upon reflection that I have realized this. Through that reflection process, I’ve realized that 1) my ego can be the motivation behind my work, and 2) when that is the case, I am less satisfied with my work.

Alternatively, when my work comes from a place of compassion and service, I am much more satisfied not only with my work, but with myself. For example, my work teaching yoga to kids in a local housing community. The motivation behind that work is to share yoga with kids, teach them about teamwork and collaboration, and give back to my community. Each week I walk out of those classes satisfied with the hour we spent together. Being of service is so close to my heart, and my intention is to channel that passion and motivation into all my work.

“Don’t chase glory, work hard and be satisfied.”


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