I don’t want to go to Mars.
It seems like hard work. Too hard. Brutally hard.
There’s that scene in Troy when Achilles is about to ride out for the 1-on-1 to save an army. The kid sent to get Achilles tells Achilles that he wouldn’t fight the very large man. Achilles says something like “That’s why no one will remember your name.”
Nobody will remember my name, but people will remember Elon Musk. Why? Because his vision is to do something really good:
Turning humans into space colonizers is his stated life’s purpose. “I would like to die thinking that humanity has a bright future,” he said. “If we can solve sustainable energy and be well on our way to becoming a multiplanetary species with a self-sustaining civilization on another planet—to cope with a worst-case scenario happening and extinguishing human consciousness—then,” and here he paused for a moment, “I think that would be really good.”
That’s from Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance.
What’s your vision? Why have one in the first place?
Your vision might not literally be Mars like it is Elon’s. But you can have your Mars to align to. There are variations on this (sometimes it’s a compass), but you want to have that TI-86 calculator computer that readjusted course over and over to get people the moon.
A life is a collection of days and a day is a collection of moments. If something is hard in any moment, it’s a little bit easier if you know it aligns to your vision. In Smarter, Faster, Better, Charles Duhigg writes about the Crucible, a 54-hour test for Marine recruits. During that span, you only get 6 hours of sleep. (And you can guess that the other 48 aren’t reading books and gardening.)
If you see things are getting tough for someone, ask them “Why are you doing this?” From Smarter, Faster, Better:
If you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier, Quintanilla’s drill instructors had told him. That’s why they asked each other questions starting with “why.” Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge.
That line of code? Make it perfect. Why? To make this function perfect. Why? To make this application perfect. Because it’s going to control some part of this rocket ship. It’s going to Mars to provide supplies for future humans. That’s important because Earth is running out of time.
I will now draw on some more notecards. Maybe some people might consider that really good. (Or at least good enough!)