Alexander Whillas

Reflections on Motivation

Started ; Updated Jul 05, 2023

I’ve read, and been told, that while working on a computer game its important to keep a dev-log of your progress, your thoughts and musings. But why?

I’ve been pondering motivation in general for awhile now. There is the old adage by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (apparently) which has been my guiding light for many years now and is the backbone of my school of management philosophy:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

So, motivation is the key to any project.1 With motivation, people will organise themselves, learn anything that is required press on, working into the night. But how to muster motivation? How do you command it?

I’ve noticed that problems I have spent a long time working on, for work, tend to linger in my mind and I continue to think about them until they are solved, even in my spare time. This seems to be a general rule: the more you think about something the more motivated you are by it.

Having read some of László Polgár‘s book, ‘Bring Up Genius!’, which covers how he raise his three daughters to become chess champions his main technique seems to have been to saturate them in chess culture. He decorated their rooms with chess games and puzzles and they were constantly playing each other and selected opponents. (He also attributed positive feed back as aslo being very important, 10 positive for every 1 negative). He started this at a young age.

All that exposure to chess must have permeated the child’s mind, so they were thinking about it almost non-stop. Perhaps after a certain level of exposure there is a run away effect and this leads to obsession? I noticed that when I was into sound art I would help going to performances constantly helped keep me inspired.

So, consistent exposure, to what ever you want to me motivated to do, is the key to staying motivated.

You can choose what you want to be motivated to do but you have to remove all preconceptions of it that might be negative or even just misunderstandings. For example if one were to learn accounting one would have to dispel the idea that its boring, dull or uncreative2. Instead one needs to make your mind a blank slate on the topic before you start and look for wonder in the details, and there are always details.

As a side note this also applies to everything you expose your mind to I’ve noticed. The movies/TV shoes you watch, the books you read, events you go to, the people you talk to all mix together, vying for influence in your mind. The quieter your life, the more you notice new things entering it, the calmer your mind the more ripples any one of these things makes. Like a stone dropped into a still water.

  1. There is also, what I like to call, the Pharaoh approach to building in which you whip people to dead and then replace them with more people which you whip to dead. See the research industry to an example of this. 

  2. Ideally it is uncreative else you might have a problem with the law. 

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