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Motivation sucks. You can’t build anything substantial upon it. Rushing into McDonald's in the morning after a party to demolish a Royal Cheeseburger (or a Quater Pounder, I double dare you) is just about the limit of what you can achieve on a pure motivation. If you are in for the long run, the word you’re looking for is discipline. There’s a whole Internet about it, so I won’t elaborate on it here.

With this sorted out, here’s my selection of motivational fast-food.

Number One: Alec Baldwin on basics of being a salesman

I originally bumped into this one here. I won’t try to compete neither with David Wong nor with Alec Baldwin in communicating the message. Here are my two cents: your chances of being killed with a (steak) knife are much higher if you actually treat other people like that. I would rather suggest nurturing your inner Alec Baldwin who will give you that punch when you need one.

Number Two: Eminem on his subtle superiority over the other guys in the room

I love this grotesque ode to skill which breaks the walls. Connections, money, reputation, motivation —it’s nice to have them. Skill is what you must have.

Number Three: Mars astronauts on being sent 50 million kilometers away from Earth

A big part of the brilliant semi-documentary series is devoted not to Mars itself, but to the people. The crew.

What came to my mind is this question: how would you pick these people? If you’re the CEO of the project, what people are you looking for? If you’re one of the team, what kind of medic do you want to have in your team? Here’s an important fact which should guide you: it will be your one and only medic for the next 4 years.

These people are obviously the best in their respective fields. What exactly does it mean in Mars context? I believe it’s the width of their knowledge. The last thing you want to hear from your medic when you’re on Mars already is “Oh, sorry, I’m good in field A, and field B is not my specialization”. You actually don’t want your medic to talk much: you want her to make sure that the crew is alive and healthy.

Even if your professional skills are not directly relevant to a Mars expedition, it’s a nice metaphor to have in mind: if they were, would you have a chance of being picked? If not, how far are you now from the target skill level? Even if that distance is comparable to the distance to Mars: are you moving towards it? It’s the last question which seems the most beneficial to ask yourself in a long run.

Number Four: on a simple daily set of exercises

Don’t have much to say about it. It’s shot perfectly, it’s stylish as hell, the message is as clear as it could be.

Go harder, or go home.

By the way, going home is a perfectly acceptable choice if you have already accomplished a great deal today. “go harder” is about structuring your work to get the most output from it, and I don’t believe long hours is the way. This post covers the idea in great detail.

Number Five: Mr. Wolf on problem solving

Mr. Wolf solves problems.

As an amusing thought experiment, try to imagine him pronouncing something along these lines:

Right, it’s hard to imagine. He’s not payed for giving the reasonable explanations of why he can’t do something. Notice how Mr. Wolf is not a full-time employee of Marsellus Wallace. You can’t afford a full-time Mr. Wolf. A minute of his time is worth a ton of diamonds. You can’t afford him even if you are Marsellus Wallace.

Mr. Wolf takes responsibility. He doesn’t limit it in some incidental way. What he offers is a complete package, full warranty included.

Notice how you can’t offer a full package if you’re busy with a task, and forget about the problem. Mr. Wolf doesn’t do this. Completing the tasks is the most straightforward way to a situation where you will say something like “I did everything I could, it wasn’t enough, but I exercised a lot of effort, so I’m not the one to blame”. Not a fun place to be.

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