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What I get out of all these different posts on motivation is that the amount of motivation matters a lot, the type of motivation matters very little, and motivation and come from very different places for different people.

Some of the most successful people are highly motivated by their insecurities (eg Warren Buffett). Some have a very specific vision they want to accomplish. Some like dhh follow one goal at a time. Some simply grew up with the expectation that great things were expected of them and see their success more as a result of their habits than their goals. Some are motivated by revenge. Some are motivated by proving others wrong. Some are motivated by not wanting to be ordinary. Some are motivated by wanting to be accepted and loved. Etc.

So really, the best thing you can do is look back at your own life and figure out what drove you to action. What was the time in your life when you were most productive & effective? And what was your life like then?




What I get is a lot of survivor bias. "This is how to do it because this worked for me". What about all the people still in the middle of the pack in the gentlemen's race? Do none of them desire a top-ten finish?

I look at motivation as the hind-sight rationalization for how people got lucky. For all we know, 30 other people were trying what DHH was, but we never heard from them because they didn't get lucky.

I do think you can stack the cards in your favor (DHH is a really smart guy, that is certainly one planted card), but no amount of internal anything can guarantee success.

So I try to stack some cards: work regularly on my project, make a concerted effort to find value to add, interact with people in a positive way so I don't burn bridges, etc. Maybe it's not an "I can remake the world to be what I want" entrepreneurial attitude, but I think it is more realistic for a bootstrapped project.


I didn't read DHH as saying that this method guarantees success. That's an extreme claim. I think he was saying that it helps you make the attempt.

If he had initially framed his racing goal as winning Le Mans, he might have said "You know what, this Rails thing is going pretty well, why don't I just stick to that."

And if he had initially framed his goals for Rails as "creating a popular new framework", he might have said "you know what, XBOX is pretty fun", and never tried.

I've no doubt that DHH has failed at some goals using this method. The important thing is that it has helped him try enough times to rack up successes as well.


I guess I'd never really given it much thought, but I'm glad to hear others are motivated by insecurity, proving others wrong, etc. The first company I ever built was when I was 15, to this day I remember a conversation I had with my dad explaining an idea "I'd heard about". In reality, I'd already built it, but his response was something along the lines of "that sounds like a terrible idea, and it's probably not legal". It hurt, and he probably wouldn't have given that appraisal had he known it was my idea, but it made me want to prove him wrong. A year later, he was managing sales at my company while I went to high school during the day.

All these motivators seem like emotional instabilities, is motivation really internal at all? I wonder, what if I hadn't been told my idea sucked, would I have had the same drive to make it work?




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