In economics class they told us people work harder as they paid more. That greed was a virtue.

It sounded iffy.

You may have noticed the opposite yourself:

  • How did you feel  the last time you worked on a project which you didn't care about, but you still got paid well?
  • How long before the itch to do something else started?

And try flipping the script

  • How did you feel when you last helped someone and made a difference to them?
  • How do you feel like when you're playing video games?

As psychologists are now proving, we're at our peak when we're performing activities which either:

  • Feel like play
  • Helps those we care about

What does this mean for us?

We'll do our best if we look for work where we'll be helping others. And if it feels like play, even better.

Your nuggets for the week

Going deeper into motivation and creativity:

  1. Help others to help yourself
  2. Work-play balance
  3. Look for meaningful goals

#1 Help others to help yourself

"As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well—a law as inexorable as gravity.”  --via The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

You can fake empathy, but the productivity benefits won't happen unless you actually care about the other person.

#2 Work-play balance

"We've let the spirit of play atrophy, both in body and in mind. If you don't believe me, let's see you match a 6-year old in enthusiasm and energy." --via Minimum Viable Play

Doing things just because we're curious, without a specific goal in mind, is how we discover the world and ourselves. It's hard to be creative if you don't feed your curiosity first.

And counter intuitively, financial rewards can make you less creative, while exploring for fun does the opposite. It doesn't have to only be "serious" topics either, playing with numbers led to the invention of modern math.

#3 Look for meaningful goals

"Something I started coming to grips with was not only what fulfills me (making things), but also what I’m actually good at." --via I sold Baremetrics

The best projects to work on are ones where you find the goal fulfilling, and the work required is something you're good at.

Josh sold his successful company because he realized he was no longer working on the types of problems he enjoyed.

Your Turn 👊

When was the last time you helped someone? How did it make you feel?