“Then there's the psychological form, which I think for many is not having a mission one is excited about and is able to make difficult but steady progress towards. The actual motivation for the work, and the ability to get in a flow state when doing the work…we need to shift to a collective goal, so that more people can internalize the positive impact of their work”

Agreed! Burnout happens when goals are not sufficiently motivating. And I think often they are not sufficiently motivating because they are not precise enough at some level. Elon’s goals are the most precise in the world, from vision down to daily tasks. It’s really hard to do, and we all need to figure out how to do it better.

Expand full comment

The idea of "meaning" is at the core of this discussion. Most people cannot tie what they do every day to a higher purpose, therefore feeling "meaningless" and impossible to generate the effort required to succeed. For the minority that can (doctors, military service members, and professional athletes are great examples), it becomes all-consuming, almost addictive.

Sebastian Junger, a war correspondent and author, talks about his concept by saying, "veterans miss war because of brotherhood, the belief that you love those around you more than yourself." Their mission was the welfare of their community, which is why it was so hard for them when they returned. This phenomenon isn't unique to the military: athletes and healthcare professionals feel this powerful bond to their work and community. You can check out his full Ted Talk on YouTube: search "Sebastian Junger: Why veterans miss War."

What I'm trying to get at is that it's a dangerous game to assign one's "meaning" to their profession or, on a more fundamental level, their ambition. I say this as someone who's gone down this path and is still working through it years later. I wouldn't trade how I felt or the people I met for anything, but you can end up becoming a slave to your ambition.

Expand full comment

Erik and his new age thoughts. We need to have more of these conversations. As for me I don't have any grand aspirations today except providing a comfortable place to live and make the people I love happy

Expand full comment