Scott Berkun on How to Stay Motivated

Scott Berkun is a local author friend of Bryan’s, whom I’ve met on several occasions at various tech gatherings. I am fascinated by his writing, because although he writes from a business perspective on topics such as project management, I always seem to find nuggets of truth in his essays that can be applied to my personal walk through life.

Take this essay, for instance, on How to Stay Motivated. He opens with this paragraph:

All great tasks test our motivation. It’s easy to court ideas over beers and change the world with napkin sketches, but like most things taken home from bars, new challenges arise the next day. It’s in the morning light when work begins, and grand ideas (or barroom conquests) lose their luster. To do interesting things requires work and it’s no surprise we abandon demanding passions for simpler, easier, more predictable things.

We can all identify with this, right? The desire to lose weight, met with the reality of exercise. The desire to stop raging, met with the reality of giving up control. The desire to reconcile an argument with my husband, met with the reality of humbling myself and first asking for forgiveness.

Crossing over from desire to action is where I often do a face plant.

Last week I experienced every test of my patience and self-control that could be thrown at me. I started out fine, of course, rolling with it as I adjusted my expectations several times. But as I was tested time after time, I felt my patience chipping away, and my sense of entitlement rising up within me.

Haven’t I compromised enough this week? How much do I really have to sacrifice for other people? When do I get to catch a break and get what I want? I think after all this I deserve for something to go right.

In the early afternoon on Friday I threw a small temper tantrum when a program on my computer didn’t accomplish what I needed it to. And, as Bryan walked through the front door on his return from a lunch meeting, he was caught up in the swirling of my tornado-like anger. I verbally spun around the room, sucking in anything that wasn’t securely attached. Bryan tried for several minutes to reason with me before darting down the stairs to the safety of his office, ignoring me as I screamed at him, “What, are you just going to walk away from me???”

Uh, yeah. When met with a tornado, I advise you to run the hell away from it.

I managed to pull myself together before the kids woke up, and I later apologized to Bryan for taking my frustration out on him. In the process I realized how unproven the New Jen is.

Many things have changed about me – heart changes; deeply rooted, fundamental transformations – but it wasn’t the magic of a puff of smoke. I worked hard to get here, and I was worked hard on by God. Maintaining the New Jen requires continuous hard work and motivation, and continuous reliance on Christ to transform me, because I am lazy by nature, and in some ways it was easier to be who I was.

Easier, but then again not easier.

I also appreciate that Scott includes The Crazy Friend as an important motivator. I call this community, and without it, this process of transformation would have been a lot slower, with obnoxiously unending naval gazing, and not nearly as much fun. True community breeds laughter through tears, and provides perspective into myself that I can’t see on my own. Scott writes:

They’re the ones best likely to get what you’re talking about, why you care so much about something few others do, and will rally behind you, increasing the odds you’ll get it done. Use the buddy system: you be their crazy friend if they’ll be yours.

So as I caught up on my RSS feeds over the weekend and read this essay, it was good timing and a good reminder that Great Things require endurance. And for me, the greatest motivation must remain the transforming love of Christ.

3 thoughts on “Scott Berkun on How to Stay Motivated”

  1. Thank you. I really needed to be reminded of this tonight.

    I was really discouraged today. I ate badly and without intention and I was just generally grumpy and unmotivated. I actually said outloud tonight to Joe and Bret. “What’s the point in being nice, if I’ve BEEN nice for like a month now, and I have one bad day and you all act like I’m the Bitch again?” Real nice. Kinda like stapling peaches to an apple tree (Was that Tim Lane or Paul Tripp?) 🙂

    Thanks for being crazy friend to me–I’ll keep being one for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *