Successful people, in my mind, are self-motivated. They work hard not always knowing what they’ll get in return, but from the sheer fact that they care about doing good work. They care about quality. They care about the image they’re projecting. At some point, you can’t continue on that trajectory of success without any positive feedback. You may think from a recent post that I’m only motivated by financial gain. That is true. On some level, we all are. If someone told you that your salary was going to stay constant for the foreseeable future, how do you think that would affect your productivity?!
More than anything, more than financial gain, I am motivated by external feedback. When I was a lot younger, I was mostly self-motivated, but when you get to my age, all of that changes. Sadly, I get zero praise at work regardless of how hard I work. That hurts and makes me a bitter employee.
Let’s switch gears to my other responsibilities. As a volunteer coordinator at Burning Man, I spend a couple hours every week recruiting, responding to an overwhelming amount of emails, scheduling, attending meetings, and planning social events. I do not get paid. The perks are nice, but limited. Yet I continue to do this year after year. Why? Because unlike my regular job, people tell me they appreciate me! Several of the new volunteers told me after our first meeting, “You made me feel so welcome.” “You’re a great volunteer coordinator.”
Awww shucks, y’all just made my heart sing. That’s what I live for. Not money! Just a nice word every now and then to keep me sane. Positive feedback. Words of encouragement. How hard is that? Take a minute now to think of overlooked people who make your life better who aren’t generally appreciated. Not your significant other, not a loved one. But the cleaning people at your gym—the ones who make sure you have clean towels and refill the shampoo dispenser. The eucharistic minister at church or the choir members who make sure you have a pleasant mass experience.
Almost 11 years ago Crissy Field was restored and opened with a grand celebration. I was so thankful to live in a beautiful city with beautiful public spaces. I sent a thank you card to the Crissy Field Center because I knew there’d be at least one volunteer who would read it.