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On motivation

As I sit at the airport, waiting for my flight, and a book to keep me company, I've been thinking how our motivation to do something directly affects the quality of the work that we produce. And I'm pretty sure that the thought was stirred by the escapades of one Richard Feynman that I'm currently reading about.

When I reflect back on all the things that I've done over the years (both big and small), I can clearly see a pattern where my motivation to do said things had a direct correlation with the quality of the work that I produced. I can think of several instances where I wasn't really motivated and barely scraped through. And I can think of several instances where I was really motivated and ended up doing a great job. However, I can barely think of cases where the vice versa is true.

That's a pattern I'm noticing in the stories of Richard Feynman as well. If you can think of counter examples from your own life, do write to me.

My theory is that a high level of motivation to do something raises the expectations of the quality of work that we want to produce. The amount of effort we put into something is usually determined by the expectations that we have of how good our work needs to be. Hence, higher the expectations, the more attention we pay to the finer details, the more effort we put in and as a consequence, produce work that is better than average.

While "Surely you're joking Mr Feynman!" has been an entertaining read so far, the one thing I'm taking away is to approach everything that I do with a high level of motivation. In cases where I don't have the motivation, I'll have to think of ways to raise it or consider dropping the task altogether. 

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