Push or pull?

I’ve been in the high tech industry for over 20 years.  Logically, I know that I’ve been in the workforce (full time) for over 20 years.  21 years, 1 month and 4 days, to be exact.  And yet I never stop thinking that I graduated from university 10 years ago.  It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, I figure university was about 10 years ago.

Anyway, in my 21 years in the working world, the job I enjoyed the very very most was teaching people about a way to develop software and manage projects that is very different from what was traditionally viewed as the right way to do things.  It was my favourite job over 21 years, and I got to do it for about 3 of those 21 years.  One of the things we teach about in this method is the concept of push versus pull in assigning work.

In the simplest terms, push means we give people work to do whether they are able to take it on or not — which is the way work is assigned in many, if not most, environments — pull means people control when they take in work.  They pull in new work when they have capacity to take it on.  There is an element of choice.

I’m starting to notice a parallel in life.  This push versus pull.  We push ourselves to do things — go to the gym, eat healthy, take a course, get a promotion.  We try to stay motivated by thinking about the benefits of whatever it is we’re pushing ourselves to do.  We go to the gym to lose weight, get strong.  We strive for the promotion because it will mean more money and power.  Surely, if we keep our eye on the prize, we’ll continue to be motivated to go for it.  And when our motivation falters, we look for things that will pick it back up.  Motivational quotes and pictures, renewed goal setting and commitment.  Accountability buddies.  We spend a lot of time on motivation.

Motivation is a good thing.  Achievement is great.  Motivation helps us.  But based on the number of people who give up on their goals, their dreams, the things they apparently want more than anything, I’m not sure that motivation is enough.

Motivation is a push.  I think, to truly succeed, we need a pull.  We need inspiration as well as motivation.  In fact, I think we need inspiration more than motivation.  Inspiration is that which pulls us towards what we want.  Inspiration is the voice that says “when I write, I feel like I’m giving something valuable to the world”.  Motivation is the voice that says “if I write, I can get more coaching clients and make more money.”  Inspiration says “I feel so great when I work out, like I can take on the world.”  Motivation says “If I keep working out, I’ll lose all the weight I want to lose.”

Inspiration pulls you to do something.  You just have to do it.  Sometimes you don’t know why.  Inspiration is true, no matter what.  Motivation gives you a reason for doing things — a longer term vision, if you will.  But motivation isn’t always necessarily true.  You might get more coaching clients because you write, or, you might not.  You might reach your ideal weight if you keep working out, or, you might not.

Follow inspiration.  Pay attention to how you feel about what you’re doing — before, during and after.  Did you get a rush, a thrill a great, undefinable feeling?  As long as you’re inspired you’ll not only want to do the thing you want to do, you’ll HAVE to do it.  I think that’s the key to making things happen.

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