What Motivates You

1 – So about a month ago I got word that my job status would change in some way, though management didn’t know exactly how. They had just laid three people off and while they wanted to keep me around, my price tag left me vulnerable. Early word was that I’d go from salary to hourly and possibly work from home.

I’m not stupid. I’ve known since I started that, despite having unique ability within my company and in the area, I was always going to be in danger if times got bad.

So when word came down I wasn’t totally blindsided and to be honest wasn’t even that worried. Finding a new job wouldn’t take long and I was more than willing to relocate. I like Eau Claire a lot but all my friends are either an hour west or an hour and a half east. Everyone I know here is either married or may as well be. Being the only single dude in your group sort of sucks.

So anyway, that was a month ago. Since then I’ve actually never been busier or had more things to accomplish at SP. I’ve remained on a full time basis and Sales just sold a Flex app that’s going to take a minimum of 50 hours to complete.

I’m content.

2 – I’m having some difficulty coming up with a worse purchase than jewelry. It sort of hit me last night when I caught a Kay Jewelers commercial. You had your typical beautiful couple and the guy caught his wife or girlfriend by surprise with this massive rock. She of course teared up as if she couldn’t be happier. Then the pricetag shows up and it hits me: could there possibly be a more irresponsible buy? Not even now in this economic climate, but ever?

If I’m dropping a grand on something it had better come in 1080p or go towards paying off a mortgage or car payment. Because when you sit back and think about it, what the hell do diamond earrings do for you? Is it really that big a thing with women that they can show off their jewelry to their girlfriends?

I know if won’t happen, but my hope is that the girl I settle down with is the type that if I ever splurged and brought home something like that she’d kick me out for blowing a tuition payment for junior.

3 – What motivates you? The subject has been on my mind a lot in the last month, particularly in the last two weeks. Obviously, different things motivate different people.

Some people want to be an authority. They want to be decision makers and have control over others.

Others want to be apart of something and don’t want to be on the outside looking in. They like being in a group or having affiliation.

For others it’s recognition. They like getting praised or being recognized as the best at something.

Maybe you just like getting shit done or you enjoy bettering yourself. Make lists, write down goals, cross them off.

I’m not sure which one is me but I know which ones don’t fit. I don’t need to be a decision maker. I really have no desire to manage others and I don’t need to be in control of anything. I’ve also never craved recognition. More often than not I’m embarrassed if I’m singled out for anything positive. If anything groups and organizations bother me. If I’m not involved with others I’m not gonna worry about it.

I’d say if there was one up there that does fit it’s getting things done and seeing the results. If something isn’t done I’m not comfortable until I’ve put in the effort to complete it. At work it might be learning a new coding technique or building an app. At home it’s probably something as simple as doing the dishes or putting away the laundry. It could just be that there’s a problem and it needs solving or fixing. I don’t really have a choice. Things in my life need to get done or I don’t sleep at night.

But what happens when there’s nothing else on that list of things to do? What happens when I’m finished with my projects for work, the bills are paid and the house is clean? What gets me off my ass when there’s nothing left on that list? What happens when there’s nothing left to make me proactive? For almost two years I’ve been searching for an answer to these questions.

It only recently occurred to me that I might have found an answer: revenge.

George Herbert, a poet in the 1600s, coined the phrase “Living Well is the Best Revenge”. Words to live by as far as I’m concerned. If you feel like you’ve been wronged or disrespected or fucked over or dissed (and I recently have), make yourself better. Much better.

That element had been missing in my life and since it’s always been a massive motivator for me little has really changed for almost two years running. But all it took was a couple instances where I’ve felt dissed to light a fire under my ass and now my goal is to simply make myself better. Physically, socially, mentally. Better job, better relationship, better place in life. Basically the one thing that pushes me lately is the notion that one day the people that did this will think, “I made a massive fucking mistake”.

3b – So it occurs to me that doing anything out of something so petty may not appear to be the most dignified or…fuck I don’t even know the word.


A month or two ago Michael Jordan was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He went in with a class that included guys like Jerry Sloan and John Stockton. I think David Robinson went in as well.

So we’re talking about a class that included some of the best basketball players and coaching minds of my generation.

However, a day after and a week after the induction ceremony only one thing was talked about: how awful Jordan came off during his speech.

Jordan has always been known to be a competitive son of a bitch. It wasn’t one thing to beat you. He wanted to humiliate, embarrass and crush you until there was nothing left but a quivering pile of shit left in his wake. It didn’t end on the basketball court either. Golf, gambling, checkers…everything.

What drove him was personal spite and the desire to beat you. If you told him he couldn’t do something or if he felt disrespected in some way (real or manufactured in his head) he didn’t rest until you were proven wrong.

One of the biggest examples of Jordan’s desire to say, “I told you so” came during his induction speech. In the middle of pointing how great he was and not thanking more than one or two people (as opposed to Stockton and Robinson who couldn’t thank enough people and appeared as gracious as two people could) Jordan took a moment to single out his high school coach (the man who cut him as a freshman) and say, with a point of the finger, “You made a mistake, dude”.

This could have been glossed over had Jordan not personally arranged for this man to sit in the audience for the induction ceremony.

Get that? Michael Jordan – multiple MVP, gold medalist, six-time NBA Champion, six time Finals MVP, NCAA champion – harbored enough of a grudge so on the night when he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame he made a point to personally shove his success in the face of a high school coach who thought he wasn’t good enough almost thirty years ago.

When i saw Jordan’s acceptance speech I was horrified, uncomfortable and embarrassed. How could the world’s most famous athlete have such little tact? How could he be so small?

Then the stories came out. I’d read Sam Smith’s The Jordan Rules a decade ago so I knew what young Jordan was like. But I’d figured success and age had changed him. It didn’t happen. The media was quick to come and say that the public shouldn’t be surprised by the events that night. It’s who Jordan was. Personal slights (real or imaginary) were what drove MJ. He was always the guy who wouldn’t rest until he could give a massive “FUCK YOU” to the people he felt screwed him over and it wasn’t a surprise to see him use the national stage to do so one more time.

3c – So how does that fit in with what I’m talking about? Maybe not much, if anything at all. But I think if you realize what motivates you, take the reigns and go. For Jordan, it was to shove it in the faces of those who said or felt he couldn’t do something. For others it’s to make someone else happy or get their approval. Some people are legitimately altruistic and feel that it’s their duty to give back or help out and that’s what drives them. Others just need to belong.

3d – I don’t need or want anyone’s approval, I’m more or less apathetic to the plight of others (though I do feel strongly about certain causes) and, with respect to John Donne, I think every man is an island.

So yea, I have what motivates me and I won’t apologize for it. What’s good for MJ is good enough for me.

4 – So Chicago is four hours away and I’ve never been there save a trip to the museum when I was like ten years old. I’m going there for New Years and we need help. If you’re familiar with the town, shoot me an email or look me up on FB. I need some help.

5 – OGTs

See #3 🙂

6 – The West Wing is something I’ve mentioned on here before, but I have to say again how awesome it is.

Tonight I got home from work, went back into town to work out for an hour, got home and watched the Badgers and decided to turn in around 11:00. Typical night. I got in bed, fired up a West Wing DVD from Season 1 and here I am, at 1:30 in the morning and I’m wide awake. I blame Aaron Sorkin.

The West Wing was supposed to be white noise, something to distract me while I fell asleep. But it kept me so captivated that I woke up. I wasn’t tired anymore. My synapses were firing and I needed to write. The stupid thing is the episode I turned on was from season one. I’d seen it at least ten times. But the writing is so good and the subjects were so thought provoking that I couldn’t help but pay attention. GDP and the effects on inflation, amendments to bills, child labor laws, appointments in the cabinets, security threats from white supremacists…all in one episode. I couldn’t turn away.

So now it’s almost two hours later, I’ve been cranking away at this blog since and it’s mostly because it’s the only way to clear my head.

7 – I called the folks this afternoon to let them know when I’ll be home this week. Last year was the first time I’d made anything for Thanksgiving. I brought a broccoli casserole and the dish was gone inside of 15 minutes. People were going back for seconds. Nothing but compliments. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been so into cooking ever since.

This year I’m totally clueless. I have absolutely no idea what to make and I’m searching for ideas. Everything on the table is traditional and classic and that isn’t what I’m good at. If anyone has a family recipe that could help me out, drop me a line. Thanksgiving is a day away and I’m a little desperate.

8 – Since I feel like I’m heading down the home stretch of this blog I started a new episode of the West Wing. Toby is being Toby, the pissed off intellectual who loves nothing more than a fight. I youtubed for a scene and the first few that came up were actually from the episode I was watching. He’s great.

But instead I’ll go with one from the pilot episode of the West Wing, and it ranks up there with the best TV scenes I’ve ever come across. Josh made a gaffe on national TV when he insulted the religious right. Consequently Toby made a meeting with heads of the religious right so CJ and Josh could apologize. Things didn’t go as planned and President Bartlett makes a memorable opening.

9 – 2:00 am and I’m out. ‘Til next time.

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