Motivation: A Developer’s Greatest Tool

When I read Somnez’ Soft Skills book, I found the section on motivation very interesting. Somnez compares internally motivated people vs. externally motivated people, and raves about how hugely beneficial it is for that motivation to come from the inside. It’s not a new concept; google intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and you’ll find plenty of psychological studies and papers. That being said, motivation’s importance on both career and education cannot be overstated.

The beauty of working with passionate, driven developers (or just passionate people) is the practically contagious motivation that they radiate. It drives them to seek self-improvement, leading to a stronger knowledge base, which can then passed along to other members of the team. It embolden’s them to think outside of the box, and propose unique solutions to typically complicated or misunderstood problems. But this is only true of motivation emanating from the inside.

Passion, a desire for solving problems, a thirst for knowledge. A person fueled by these intrinsic traits develops for it’s own sake, because it’s enjoyable, because they want to do it.

External motivation takes many forms, but for the most part they all boil down to fear. People are afraid of becoming unemployed, losing their paycheck, or just failing at a task.

Fear doesn’t lead to innovation, and it doesn’t drive people to succeed. People naturally just do the bare minimum to rid themselves of that fear. And once that external motivation disappears, any progress or desire work disappears; there ceases to be a reason to do anything.

Internal motivation, on the other hand, isn’t dismissed so easily. Only the person in question can quiet the desires that come from within, and even then they’re bound to keep creeping up. It’s the reason some people become so successful: they just can’t help themselves. They find a reason to love what they do, and they don’t stifle that passion.

At the end of the day, internal motivation makes better developers, so find your passion and led it guide you through your career.


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