As we discover more fully what motivates and drives us, I find myself hyper-curious about what drives other people. What makes successful people tick? What makes happy people happy? I’ve learned enough to know that happiness is not about what you’ve been given but what you make of it. Just because I know this, do I believe and apply it?
While watching some fun and lively bluegrass (the Volunteer String Band) while in Nashville for the WEF Biosolids Conference, I marveled at the skills of these fine musicians picking their tunes during a humble, Monday-night performance. Before they confirmed it, I suspected they were playing for tips only…to be split between the 4 of them.
I didn’t crunch the numbers but would guess that tips may nearly cover their transportation costs. I sat there and I wondered how they mustered the strength to get up in the morning (or in the early afternoon?). How did they keep practicing? Did they have a day job? How did they not get discouraged? How would it be to have your skills and your passion underappreciated and mostly unnoticed? How would it be to work so hard for so little? How do they make a Banjo or a Mando sound so amazing?
In the dim light of the mason-jar chandeliers and through the glowing blue spotlight, I saw something in this backwoods-looking crew. They didn’t much care what I thought. They didn’t quit if the gig didn’t pay much. It was far more than a job or a gig to them. For them, it was an opportunity. They were going to do what they do it as well as they could and then practice more. And come back again next week better than before. And there they were. Playing because they loved to play and perhaps even lived to play.
Their strength and motivation was internal. Sure, they wanted some tips to cover some costs. But that wasn’t why they were there. Quite simply, it couldn’t have been. They were there because they loved doing what they were doing. And it showed. They had fun. Under ANY circumstance. It was as if they decided this and their approach would have been the same no matter what.
I don’t think it’s always bad to do things for external reasons. In part, that’s why this blog exists. We are social beings, after all. We are fueled and lifted to new heights by others. However, I am reminded that I could use a little more of that internal fire to help determine what I need to do to accomplish, grow and improve.
Perhaps I lie in wait for that perfect venue. That sublime moment where all of my efforts and talents are recognized and rewarded for what I feel they are worth. I wait for the stars to align instead of acting to align the things that I can actually move and control.
So, here’s a big step for me. I’m sure this post isn’t perfect. I’m sure there’s a typo. I could have expressed something better or worded it differently. I could second-guess this thing to pure inaction…or just click the publish button. (Note to reader: If you are seeing this, I succeeded!)