There’s things I do because I’m obliged to : I promised someone else I’d do it, and they expect me to do it, usually by a deadline.
There’s things I do because I want to : I enjoy doing them, and doing them makes me happy.
And then there’s things I do because I have to : they occupy my every thought, waking or sleeping. Not doing them makes me unhappy.
I’m discovering that I need a healthy mixture of all three of these motivations to actually produce good stuff. If any one of these is missing, the result suffers.
If I don’t enjoy doing something, I put it off. The worse my tools get, the less enjoyable the experience of using them, the more I procrastinate. Making my tools easy and fun will make me use them more.
If I’m not obsessed by something, I won’t persist when I hit a tough patch. I have to be obsessed to really go in and finesse those details, to stay up till 4am, to hammer at code in the back of taxis, to worry at a problem for months until it yields.
But if there’s no deadline, well, shit just doesn’t ever get delivered.
So I’m figuring out now that the game I need to get good at is to bring all these forces to bear, not only around me, but around all the people that I work with.
To start with this conversation : What do you enjoy ? What are you obsessed with ? What do we have in common ? What shall we make together ?
And then to engineer real, external deadlines that connect with those conversations, and make them real.