Name that nineties commercial. Bacon! Bacon! Where’s the bacon? I smell bacon. It’s gotta be bacon. There’s only one thing in the world that smells like bacon and that’s bacon! There it is! It’s in the bag! Chewy, yummy smokey bacon! Oh boy oh boy oh boy, num num num num, it’s bacoooooooon! Who could forget the advertisement for the most delicious dog treats in the world. This commercial teaches an important lesson about leverage. Because everyone has their own version of this moment.
BACON -- A small collection of intrinsic triggers that stoke your creative fire regardless of circumstance
We all have those triggers that freeze time, make our left eyelid twitch, activate our deepest cravings and human hungers and move us to execution. Those currencies that, when sniffed out, override our excuses, tap into our natural motivations and drive us to do things. The goal is to find your bacon. To figure out why you do what you do. Once you identify that personal and unique source of leverage, anything is possible. Once you identify the small collection of intrinsic triggers that stoke your creative fire, nothing can stop you. Once you learn how to activate your own internal generators, there’s no reason you can’t become a prolific collector, creator and communicator of ideas. But you have to dig down through the many levels of why. You have to flesh out the drivers that motivate you on an hourly basis. One exercise for doing so is to sit down and physically map out every single decision you made on a given day. Phone calls you made, conversations you had, food you consumed, activities you did, people you saw, ask yourself, literally, why did you just do what you did? What about you? What bacon can can help you rationalize anything? A similar exercise for uncovering your natural motivations is to plug yourself into the following formulas: I can feel like I’ve achieved a return on investment, as long as blank. I can rationalize anything, as long as it has something to do with blank. I can accomplish anything, as long as I have the organizing principle of blank. I can stick with a new behavior, as long as I can find a way to incorporate blank. I can trick myself into doing something daily, but only if I get the chance to blank.
Having done this exercise a number of times before, here are several of my answers. First, a blank canvas. Making things has always been the most natural way for me to engage with the world. When I get up in the morning, there’s a mechanism inside me that says what I’m supposed to make next. And so, I am motivated by the freedom to express myself. Secondly, a personal ritual. I can motivate myself to do just about anything, as long as there’s a ritual attached to it. Ritual is an intentional, purposeful experience I layer on top of an activity to make it more meaningful. I have one for everything I do. And so, I am motivated by a repeatable process. Third, a captive audience. I believe human interaction is a divine transaction. Engaging with people, even for a moment at a time, fuels me. Every time I go out of my way to earn people’s attention, I reward them for giving it to me. And so, I am motivated by a chance to perform. Next, an interesting problem. Creativity is my gift. As a lifelong thinker, the moment something activates the problem solving impetus of my brain, my body has a physical reaction. I start obsessing, imagining and zealously deconstructing everything in my path until the internal monologue stops. And so, I am motivated by challenging situations. Also, a meaningful contribution. I’m genetically wired for hard work. It’s just my nature. I’m happier when I’m being productive and prolific. There is a place in me that starves if I go more than a few days without nudging the world in a positive direction. And so, I am motivated by the chance to work. That’s my bacon. That’s why I do what I do.
Yes, it can feel like you’re tricking yourself into taking action, but so what? We all have to be a little deluded to stay motivated. Enjoy the bacon. Apologies if you keep kosher. Are you a master of activating own internal generator?
Hone in on your unique motivational currency
Overrides excuses and activate natural inclinations
Move from idea to implementation with ease and speed
Hack your brain into rationalizing, executing and enjoying mundane work