Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Driven from Within

Where does motivation come from?

I have my own theories. In fact, they’re pretty deeply entrenched ideas of how and why some folks become motivated and others spend most of their lives just floating along.

It’s a bit of an obsession with me. I wasn’t cognizant of that fact until I got into writing on a full time basis. That theme of ‘being hungry’ has permeated a lot of my writing. The desire for more, for something else, something better has crept into two of my books “Love in the A Shau” and “Debris.” Both novels feature hungry young men determined to make a success of themselves. It’s a theme I can relate to and a vision quest I don’t ever see ending.

Let’s face it. We’re only here on earth for a brief period of time. Why wouldn’t we want to make the very most out of every minute of our existence? Why wouldn’t we want to do something with our lives that was worthwhile, satisfying and hopefully of benefit to others? And more importantly, why wouldn’t we want the same for our own children and grandchildren?

But anything worth doing is going to require some kind of sacrifice. Nothing comes easy…at least for most of us. When you’re born at the bottom then anything above that looks pretty good. When you have nothing growing up then you don’t long for those vapid pleasures that don’t amount to a hill of beans in the overall scheme of living. Growing up with the basics gives one a real appreciation for the simpler things of life.

That doesn’t mean you don’t want more. It simply means you appreciate the basic values of your own existence and can realistically grasp the intrinsic appeal of other things beyond your reach. There is value in being raised with a focus on the fundamentals of living and a scarcity of those extraneous distractions of wealth.

It’s not always easy being born rich. The three generation theory has been around for a long time. Among other monikers, it’s been called shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.

Based on fact and some fiction, the theory simply asserts that most businesses don’t survive beyond the third generation of owners. Grandpa starts the business. His son takes over and continues for a time. But by the time a third generation is ready to step up to the plate, the discipline and hunger for success has been muted and gutted for all intents and purposes.

And it’s hardly unique to this country. In China, it’s called rice paddy to rice paddy. In Italy, it’s called cobbler to cobbler. In Ireland, it’s called clogs to clogs.

Being born poor and hungry can be a strong motivator for the taste of success. But what if your kids aren’t growing up poor like you were? What if they’ve had a lot of advantages simply because that’s what their parents (your own kids) want them to have? Do we deny them opportunities to travel, read a lot, go to a good school or have other life experiences we could never dream of when we were growing up? I think not.

Inherent in my personality is a deep-seated prejudice about giving kids ‘everything’ simply because their parents can afford it. I think there are distinct disadvantages of being raised a rich environment. And we all know who ‘they’ are. Back in high school, they were all gathered around the ‘most popular’ table in the cafeteria. Their descendants are still there today.

So where’s the balance between giving your kids or grandkids every opportunity you can to enrich their lives and still raise them as responsible, respectable and appreciative citizens of the world?

I certainly don’t have all the answers as to how to motivate young people nowadays especially my own grandchildren. The best advice I could probably give my own kids is to lead by example. To reward their own children’s efforts and not necessarily their success. And to remind their kids that practice makes for opportunities.

I didn’t become a writer in my advanced age because I wanted to.  I’m not writing because I have nothing else to do. I’m not writing because it makes me feel important. What I try to explain to these well-meaning folks who ask why I do it…is that I have no choice. This isn’t something that I can play with occasionally when the mood strikes. This is something that I have to do.

The writer in me has to get involved in my character’s lives. I have to travel back out west occasionally and I have to muddle around the under-belly of Palm Springs when the time comes. I have to do what I do because I was born hungry and still am today. I hope to stay hungry for the rest of my life.

In past blogs, I’ve commented that I want my grandchildren to ‘be hungry.’ Thus far, I think they’re developing a pretty healthy appetite for more. Hopefully at some point in their young lives, they’ll come to understand that old adage as I did a long time ago.

That the harder they work, the luckier they might become.

No comments:

Post a Comment