Why do you do what you do? Is it for the perks, the attention or the paycheck? Probably at least somewhat. But what about the process itself? If you knew that you were going to spend the rest of your life doing your work and there would be no recognition, no public accolades, and no promise of a significant financial windfall, would you do it?
I’ve long had a theory that there are three primary motivators for doing great work: pay, prestige and process.
Pay represents the economic rewards of doing the work. This can mean money or anything money can buy. There are a lot of people who are primarily motivated by the almighty dollar.
Prestige means all of the accolades and recognition that comes with the work. People who are motivated by prestige are people who need to ensure that people are watching and that no good deed goes unnoticed.
Process means the work itself. People who are motivated by process are in love with what they do to the point that they would do it even without financial incentives or recognition. Their motivation is simply to empty themselves of what’s inside and to create new value.
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who is solely motivated by process. To some extent, we all feel the stick as well as the carrot. We need to feed our families, and it’s nice to know that others are noticing what we’re doing. I didn’t write a book for the sake of making money. (Given the economics of publishing, that would be silly.) I wrote it because I thought it could help people do brilliant work. Of course I’m hoping it will get attention and make some money for all involved, but that hope isn’t sufficient to keep me getting up at 5:30a for a year to crank out thousands of words. Only a love of process can do that.
The people I’ve met who are truly brilliant at what they do tend to be process-driven people. They do what they do out of a love for it, and the pay and prestige are a nice side benefit of getting to engage in work they would do anyway.
It’s a worthwhile exercise to sit for a while and think about what truly motivates you. Be honest; no one’s looking at your answers. Learning to identify and capitalize on the things you love to do is a great way to take baby steps toward being more process-driven, which ultimately means doing better and more valuable work.