Motivation: Why do we do what we do?
There are two basic types of motivation and we have a lot of ways to describe them. We've got extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation; external vs. internal motivation; reward and punishment vs. fulfillment, to name just a few.
What is the main difference? Extrinsic motivation is the quid pro quo, you do this, I'll do that type of interaction. Exchanging favors, buying goods, I'll wash the dishes if you clean the bathroom. Up to a certain point, extrinsic works good. The capitalist system couldn't work without it. Maybe you don't approve of the capitalist system, we'll agree to differ. There are however, I grant you, limitations to quid pro quo and the capitalist system: human beings require something more than external rewards or pressure to be truly happy and fulfilled. For some reason, we need to do things just because we like to and want to, not because we are getting something from someone else for it. Same thing goes for avoiding punishment, example: buckling up to avoid getting a ticket.
Intrinsic motivation on the other hand is something we do without a specific, guaranteed end in mind. We do it just because we want to. Something inside of us leads us to make beautiful music or discover scientific stuff or tinker with cars or write code because we like doing it; frankly, people enjoy doing things that some of us find hard to believe, like math. But it doesn't matter what our "passion" is, it just matters that we find it and pursue it, because it is the pursuit and practice and eventual mastery that brings us the kind of fulfillment we crave. Personally, I dream of combining business with pleasure, that is, I want to be passionate about my business and at the same time use my business to express my passion. I don't just want to be in business to get money in exchange for the goods my business produces or the services it provides; I want my business to be something more than a cashbox.
To be clear, both types of motivation are important. We can't ignore realities; mundane things like food, clothes and shelter, get really interesting, really fast, when we suddenly run out them. In practical terms that means we need money to provide life's necessities. That means we need to work and provide something of value to someone else in exchange for what we need. After we have the basic necessities that income brings us, what more do we need? Is it enough to eat, work and sleep our lives away? If our basic needs are met, is a life filled with drinking, gambling, smoking, using drugs and playing video games a happy one? Or is there more to life than work and entertainment? If we infuse our life, even the boring parts, with meaning, and work toward a purpose, gaining mastery and excellence along the way, is it not a better, more fulfilling path to success? I think so.