Negative motivation

Motivated by negativitySome people call me “underwhelmed,” but fact of the matter is I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve.

Negative feedback or lack of progress or failure often crushes me. At first.

But then, it becomes the seed of motivation.

Take sixth grade for example.

One day, Ms. Elton took me aside.

“Your handwriting,” she said. “It’s horrible.”

Okay, now I was paying attention. Not only was I quickly scratching her off my favorite teacher list, she could be sure that I wasn’t going to be entertaining that immature crush I had on her any longer. Why she would be lucky if…

“You’re far too intelligent to have handwriting this poor,” she continued. “So, I would like you to focus extra effort on improving it. I’ll help. But it’s up to you.”

Now, never mind that there are literally thousands of brain surgeons, rocket scientists, professors, and other braniacs who still boast chicken scratch that even they themselves have a hard time deciphering. This struck me.

My handwriting sucked. And I was better than that.


Not to mention the fact that she had pulled a quick u-turn on her descent down my favorite-teacher list.

Well, that and the fact that she let me and a couple of other kids make claymation movies with a Super 8 camera for about 3 months while the other kids got up to speed on fractions.

But the handwriting thing. That’s what we’re talking about.

That was negative, but motivating.

Lately, I’ve been having an equally negative and equally motivating experience. This time, it’s been motivating me to learn a new language: Ruby on Rails.

You see, the stress of getting Kumquat out the door has shown me that my ignorance of language can be a hindrance.

Kumquat isn’t built on Rails. But it likely will be. Someday. And I’ll probably make that happen. Because I’ve been motivated, by negativity.

Lack of progress. Lack of understanding. Lack of ability on my part.

But it’s motivating.

So I’m learning Rails. Despite the fact that my only other claims to coding fame are a number of Flash ActionScript tweaks, some VBScript hacks, a couple of Access databases, and a sweet Pac-Man knockoff built in BASIC on a TRS-80 in 1982 (I still have the tape here somewhere).

I’m motivated. By the failure. And negativity.

So buck up little camper. See if you can swing that latest insult into fuel for your fire. You can do it.

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Founder and editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Failure, Feedback, Motivation. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Negative motivation

  1. homeworker says:

    Ruby is a language, Ruby on Rails is a framework.

  2. Rick Turoczy says:

    See? I’m already learning.

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