What motivates us?

One day, in a hospital very close to your own, you are doing an anaesthetic list with a specialist anaesthetist.

A very good anaesthetist.

One who does cardiac bypasses and liver resections. One who does research. One who doesn’t panic. The thinking woman’s anaesthetist.

And you have the privilege of being here with him, for the whole day, eager to learn pearls of wisdom from this Guru. You want to get 5 tubes in. You want to manage torrential bleeding. You want to learn about the difference between cryoprecipitate, FFP and prothrombinex. After all, the reason you are doing this anaesthetic term is to learn how to manage the difficult airway, and make you a better intensivist.

And guess what list they give you both? EYES! Goddam EYES! Local anaesthetics! For the whole day! Where your chance of giving someone permanent eye damage far outweighs ANY learning you are going to do.

Maybe you feel a headache coming on? Are you feeling nauseous? Can you fake a phone call from your wife, who needs help with your “sick” baby?

Mid way through the morning, you pluck up the courage to ask, “Why are you doing this list? Eyes?”

He sighs. “I hate it. I really hate it. It drives me crazy. But I do it because its a small sacrifice to make, so I can do the stuff that really interests me. I have the Autonomy to do my 0.5 FTE research. No questions asked. No-one on my back.”

You smile and nod, “So you can get paid to do the research you like?” He looks at you. “Money is not my motivation.” He is serious.

“Surely it motivates you?”

“No,” he says. “There are only three things that really motivate people, and money isn’t one of them.”

He went on to explain his motivations, and why he tolerates things that would otherwise drive him crazy.

He tells you to watch this video by RSAnimate on a talk given by author Dan Pink. It’s only 11 minutes long and very enlightening.

Specialist Intensive Care Physician working at the Austin Hospital, Melbourne. Interests: Shoulder Dislocations, Pain Management, End-of-life care, Organ Donation and ECGs | Linkedin |

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