Last week I discussed a little bit about a project I was working on. It involved evaluating a system that had a lot of problems, mostly due to human error and lack of attention to detail. The follow-up involved having to be politically correct in talking with both the manufacturer and the purchaser of the machinery.

This is really not the kind of thing I enjoy doing. I prefer to discuss problems and their causes openly without having to “talk around” issues. I realize however that when dealing with customers and machinery there are always people involved. This means that egos and feelings come into play, making things more complex.

Though I don’t think there is any real connection, I have been sick for almost a week after this. Fortunately it coincided with finishing the projects I was working on so I have been able to stay home. It should be a good opportunity to catch up on some of my other ventures, but it has been somewhat difficult to stay motivated. Working on my book there was always a goal in mind. Sometimes it was just the motivation to complete what I had started (intrinsic), other times there was a publisher-imposed deadline involved (extrinsic). The work I am doing for my other website is a bit more nebulous; I have a lot of writing to do, but it is much more opinion-based than the book.

All of this has given me a chance to think about what motivates people. As a matter of fact, one of the “philosophies” I plan on doing for my other site is one on motivation.

The human error and lack of attention to detail mentioned above could possibly be ascribed to a lack of motivation by the designer. It is easy for me to place the blame there; I love what I do and find it hard to understand why others who are lucky enough to work in this amazing creative industry would slack off or not give their best effort. At the same time I have found myself in the same situation during the past week. Between feeling under the weather and doing a task that is not what I’m best at (writing), I’m afraid my output has not been as good as it should be. Fortunately I can simply trash what I’ve done and start over.

Machine designers and programmers don’t have the luxury of starting over. The schedule for building custom machinery is usually aggressive and doesn’t leave room for “bad days”. This makes it all the more important that people involved in technical yet creative jobs love what they do and have plenty of motivation. There is simply no margin for error.

What motivates you in your job and your life?


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.