I’m sitting at my computer today, thinking about the world, fearful of the future and wondering who or what pulls your strings. Who and what makes you do what you do? Who motivates you? Having just listened to Meryl Streep’s moving speech at the 2017 Golden Globes, I wondered what went through this great actress’s mind when she took to the podium. I respect her courage.
What made Martin Luther King, Jr. risk his family’s life, his career, his own well-being? What anguish did he suffer before embarking on his journey toward freeing his people? What ignited him?
When I worked as a corporate trainer, I taught motivation. My goal was to help managers and leaders understand how to motivate their employees. Often I would point out that the only real motivator in life is oneself. We cannot motivate others. That fact in and of itself took a great weight off my participants. Clearly, people must motivate themselves. They create their own passions. But, something happens within us that makes that happen.
Writing is a great motivator. So is reading. I get inspired by reading great books. That makes me want to go to my computer and write.
Recently I saw a movie, The Woman in Gold. The story is about an elderly woman who fled Austria during the Nazi invasion. Her family lost all their possessions, including masterpieces painted by the famous Viennese artist, Gustav Klimt. Maria Altman had her own motivations for wanting her family’s possessions returned. What I found interesting is the way the young attorney, whom she asked to help her, became possessed by this case. He came into it indifferently with little hope of success. His original motivator was the amazing value of the painting. After his trip to Vienna and after learning of the plight of his own ancestors, he dedicated himself to the mission of returning the Woman in Gold to its family. His passion overtook that of Maria Altmann. What happened? What tugged at his strings?
Sometimes we cannot pinpoint our motivations or our passions. We simply know we cannot go on without pursuing them. Many a writer has given up everything, promotions, travel, money, to pursue a career that had little hope of success. We know the people who made it. There are multitudes more who don’t. Why? Not for lack of motivation. Not for lack of talent. Often for lack of timing or luck. Nothing more.
What must you do even when the universe seems to work against you?