Staying motivated about the (seemingly) mundane

In 1994 I discovered the Web and was training college faculty members to use it, despite their interest only through mandate. In 1996 I was convincing clients to build Web sites. In 2000 I was building community activities for a major global brand. Somewhere along the way I discovered that I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of bringing new ideas to the somewhat interested.

Now it’s 2008 and I’m ready to be part of the next “wave of the future”. Thing is, I think the next such wave is actually the lull where adoption truly takes root. I actually talked about this in a previous post about comments from Sarah Lacy:

Lacy has confused “lack of innovation” with “industry maturity”. When the first automobiles came on the scene, it was such a radical departure from the horse drawn carriage that even minor improvements felt incredibly new. Today’s automotive innovations may be incredibly impressive, but the maturity of the automobile overall makes it hard to be amazingly revolutionary in that “dear god that’s cool!” sorta way. We hear things like “50 mpg” and think “well, of course that’s possible”.

Thing is, when you’re a bleeding edge kinda guy, it’s hard to get (or at least stay) excited about a stage like this. Certainly it’s exciting to see broadband adoption to high, or millions of people signing up for and participating in social communities, or my mom checking her email on a regular basis. But it’s not quite the seeing those things happen for the first time.

So then how do you stay excited and motivated when the innovation of the day is “continued mainstreaming”? I don’t claim to have any solution to this question, but here’s what I find myself doing:

  • Minimize standard processes – While I constantly strive to improve the way I explain concepts or ideas, I do my best to stay away from “standard processes” that I use no matter the project or the client.
  • Help someone new – The more experience we put under our belts, we tend to move further and further away from the newbies. I do my best to help those trying to get into the field or looking to find answers to tough questions or to speak to interested audiences.
  • Hang out with people smarter than me – Spending time with the geniuses [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] helps remind you that you have a long way to go before you know as much as you think you do now. These are also the folks who generate the greatest discussion.
  • Mix strategy work with implementation work – I do my best to mix it up and do a little of the high level thinking and some of the roll up your sleeves work. This keeps things happening from multiple directions and keeps you out of the rut that sometimes comes from doing all of one type of work.
  • Find new industries – Along with mixing up the type of work, I do my best to mix up the industries I do it for.
  • Work on motivating (side) projects – Yes, I’m fascinated with the power of community. Yes, I believe in its power because I’ve seen it up front and personal. But sometimes I forget, and so projects like the community stories book help me to be reminded of the power.

What about you? How do you keep motivated?


For information about my Community Consulting, Training and Speaker services, or to find out more about Dinner5, my unique community for community builders, contact me today.

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