Autonomy, mastery, purpose
I recently watched a really interesting you tube video about drive. Eg that which motivates us.
It’s really interesting in two ways. Firstly the content is interesting to me, as it pertains to things that motivate people and what generally makes people happy in work.
The second, is that the style of the video is fantastic, it’s basically a lecture which has been put to an animation of drawing on a whiteboard, drawing pictures and words that go with what is being said. I really love this idea and it makes for a great video. So if you got this far without clicking on the link, go spent the next 10 minutes watching. It’s ok. I’ll wait.
Good huh? It really struck a chord with me, about the sorts of things I chose to do and the things I find fun. He talks about people with full time paid jobs doing technical work, that for some reason chose to spend their own discretionary time working on other technical projects, that they give away for FREE. In my case that is Witter my twitter client.
Why did I start Witter? Purpose. The existing client for maemo had a particular behaviour, which I considered a bug, and it happened to me just a few times too often, and so I decided that I would start developing my own client, whose main purpose would be to not have that bug.
Later that purpose became ‘to be the most fully featured twitter client available for maemo’
What’s kept me at it? Autonomy and mastery. I call my own shots, I develop what features I want, in the order I want. Sure I listen to what users are asking for, but at the end of day, I do what I feel like doing. I also set out to learn Python, to figure out how to make a UI (even though most would say I have a LONG way to go on that one) but I get that enjoyment of figuring stuff out, and getting better at it.
I would be tempted to sell it, if the option existed. I do have a donation mechanism whereby people that appreciate it can buy me a beer. But even if I were selling it, money would not really be the motivator, there is simply no way I could make enough from developing witter to be in any way ‘worth’ the amount of time I’ve spent on it. As it stands I have had, I think, 7 donations. Which, considering witter sits just 6 shy of 50,000 downloads at time of writing, Is not a high user to donation ration ;-) (to be fair I think that 50k is about 1000 people downloading 50 versions)
Sometimes when I read complaints about what witter doesn’t do, or what bug/feature really annoys someone, it makes me question why they hell I spent so many hours on this thing which I give away, if there are still people that just complain about it. Perhaps I’m a sensitive soul, but it only takes 1 complainer to wipe away 20 compliments,(but thanks still to those who are appreciative and complimentary). None the less my motivations are clearly not money, nor the universal praise it draws. However I do get to do what I want, learn new skills, and drive towards a goal that I think is worthy.
All this makes me think that I should start identifying these possibilities in the opportunities I’m presented with, as I believe it will help me better determine things that I will enjoy doing.
What motivates you?