by Giuseppe Lamanna (translated by Gillian Shaw) (source text)
We live on a planet we call Earth, even though 3/4 of it is covered by water. There have been more men to walk on the moon than who have rowed across an ocean. Alex Bellini has never been to outer space, but he has rowed across the Pacific. Twice.
I’m only jealous of this guy because his profession on his ID card reads: explorer. Whereas I am just a journalist, who rows. Or at the very most, a rower who writes. But because of my job, I met him and asked for his help to find the right motivation, with the aim of spending more hours rowing than in front of the TV. It’s a pity he took the wind out of my sails, telling me not to believe in motivation. Because motivation is a cheat.
Motivation is a cheat
Alex Bellini: “You see, Giuseppe, I think its a load of rubbish when someone tells you that goals – large or small – will get you motivated. One day the motivation’s there, but not the next. But mostly, because it’s cheating you. There’s huge confusion over what motivation really is. We think of it as the cure for all ills. In reality, it’s not a dependable travelling companion. It’d be more useful to work on discipline. In the sense of responsibility. We decide we want something and we carry it through, despite the fact we feel like being sick. This makes us more resilient, more tenacious in the face of difficulties. You’re a rower, but if you depend on your motivation, you’d go out in the boat maybe once a week. Instead, you go more often because you know you took on a responsibility”.
“As for me, you don’t need to be extraordinary to cross an ocean. You just have to row. But in doing it, you need to have an indestructible faith in why you are doing it. You begin to feel tired when it feels like there’s no sense in what you are doing. As if you’ve suddenly lost your vision of the future. If you lose the connection between each, individual day and your ultimate goal, fatigue increases. It becomes a living hell. The key point is not to lose the connection between the original reason that has brought you this far. And you can be sure that when you’re out at sea for many, many months, there will be moments when you lose sight of the reason why. The most important thing is the meaning of every single stroke.”
“It’s difficult to write down the recipe that will always maintain your motivation. I kept a logbook during my adventure and the percentage of days when I was motivated were tiny. Out of 280 days at sea, I was motivated for no more than twelve. Aside from that, the real challenge lies in living a happy existence with no regrets. Whenever it’s difficult to reach our goals, we have to try to keep our hearts as light as possible. So, you’re not weighed down by the feeling of failure, of not accomplishing things, not truly lived, which in the end, become a burden that is difficult to bear. The biggest opportunity to improve comes from inside. Everything we do or don’t do, is filtered by that incredible structure – our brain. Everything comes from there”.