Is it money, fame, and glory? This can be true to varying degrees for many people, but if you are not one of those people, what is your real motivation for doing what you do?
I watched one of my favourite films ‘Sideways’ last night. Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it! At the very end of the film and after having made several mistakes trying to impress a woman he wants to be with, the lead character, a failed novelist, knocks on her door because he wants to have a relationship with her. He’s unsure of what the outcome will be. Essentially, he’s taking a chance as she may not be interested and he may well be rejected. Again.
And yet, the truth is that he is not there because he is expecting a positive response, but because the point is for him to put himself ‘out there’ and say:
‘This is who I am. I want to be with you. What do you think?’
He does it because he needs to. Regardless of the reaction.
Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones has earned a lot of money doing what he does and he is arguably a fantastically successful musician and songwriter. But after having heard an interview with him recently, such was his passion still for the guitar, I sense that he would still be playing it today whether he had been successful or not. Because it would emotionally and psychologically hurt him if he couldn’t play guitar.
Maybe you love singing but perhaps you don’t have the best voice in the world. What does it matter? You don’t have to be a multi-million album selling artist to sing. There are many singers who are commercially successful who ‘can’t sing’. And equally, there are many incredible singers that nobody has heard of. Is that fair? No, but that’s how things are. We can’t control that situation.
But we can control whether we choose to sing or not. If you enjoy singing and you need to do it, what’s stopping you? Sing along to your favourite song on the radio. Join a choir. Start a band. Write a song. Go to a local karaoke bar. Or do it online at home as we are living in a Covid-world these days.
Equally, you don’t have to be the best cook in the world to enjoy having a lovely meal, but if you enjoy the act of cooking, then go ahead and cook. And enjoy it! Ideally, you may want your friends and family to like it, but if they don’t, then they don’t. That’s not why you do it. You can still enjoy cooking.
The joy is in the action itself.
Please don’t think that I’m encouraging mediocrity here. That is not the point of what I’m saying. The result can be important of course, however, it doesn’t have to be everything and it is certainly not the most important thing to consider. We don’t have to win Olympic gold. We can just go for a run with a local club and compete there. Or simply go for a run on our own because we enjoy being in nature and get nothing more from it than that.
There is joy and beauty in our work and all around us if we look for it.
A writer writes because they want to write. They need to write because they have something to say. A rock guitarist plays guitar because they need to play guitar to express whatever they have to say. And it’s the same for some artists, cooks, runners, and dare I say, even some writers on Medium. The act of doing, in itself, is the true motivation.
So, why do you do what you do?