Motivation, Determination, Procrastination, Destination

Motivation & Determination:

I wrote previously about why I spent the Labor Day holiday weekend repairing valve lifters. Well, 2 days before the Christmas holiday I touched down in Kansas City and texted my son – already well on his way to pick me up – to let him know I was early and he could pick me up curbside. He texted me back with this photo and message:

"We're going to need a rental car"

Now, when you look underneath your car and find parts that should be contained by other parts that should be attached to your car, “we’re going to need a rental car” is a very calm and understated conclusion. Those certainly weren’t the first words out of my mouth (nor, I doubt, his – in spite of his unflappable, Zen-like character).

So while he called Triple-A to arrange a tow, I made my way to the Avis counter…to rent a car.

He could see that the differential was blown. Here is what it looked like, which he confirmed provides a good visual representation of how it felt when it happened at highway speed:

The differential is an integral part of the drivetrain, powering the drive axles while allowing them to rotate at different speeds (and hence the name. The HowStuffWorks website has a good explanation of the mechanics involved here).

In the photo below you can see the shattered aluminum housing that would normally be full of oil, and (at the top right) where the axle (technically a stub-shaft) connects the differential to the drive wheel (a rear wheel drive in this case):

And one final shot looking straight up. In the center of the photo you would normally find the pinion gear, which is now somewhere in the ditch on I-29, and to the right-center is where the drive shaft would connect the differential to the transmission:

This sounds neither easy nor inexpensive to fix, and indeed the estimate from the repair shop to replace the diff was $1296.55. So, another DIY repair job it was…

You see, to a 21 year-old, the possibility to save $1000 can provide a lot of motivation. Enough to take on a complex repair while riding a bicycle for transportation during the dead of winter.

Motivation is a critical ingredient for producing results in any endeavor, providing the impetus to overcome repeated setbacks and to sustain the perseverance required to see things through to completion. There are many, many different factors that inspire motivation in people (money being far from the most effective, as Daniel Pink demonstrates here).

As a leader it is your job to understand how to motivate your team, and to recognize that different people are motivated in different ways. I’m going to dedicate a future post entirely to this topic, but for now I’ll just note that in this case my son had sufficient motivation to take on a task that I would not have taken myself. It was only his motivation and determination that brought me on board.

Take note of this last point – sometimes it is the motivation and determination of 1 person that makes just enough difference to power the team to success. Are you that person?

To keep a long story from becoming too-long, the repair was successful. He took the opportunity to upgrade from an open differential to a viscous limited slip differential (don’t ask) which required replacing the stub shafts (don’t ask). When he can afford it he wants to install the Torsen diff, which also requires different axles (don’t ask). And finally, he tested the “limited slip” capabilities that are important for autocross racing (definitely don’t ask).


As a bonus feature, below is a link to a post that describes the secret cure for procrastination. I thought it was hilarious, but if you are offended by vulgar language it’s not for you (Mom). You’ve been warned… if you’re still interested here is the link.


On a personal note, best wishes to my son who set off recently for a new destination. He will soon complete his 3rd week of bootcamp at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. While an occasional clue surfaces to indicate that he is most likely still alive and well, not being told otherwise serves as the most reliable indication of this fact to date.

On a more philosophical note, Emerson wrote that life is a journey, not a destination. This is a big step on a new journey, destination unknown, but full of promise and potential. Best wishes, along with advice (of which we all need reminded from time to time) to enjoy the journey along the way. Life is the journey, and to enjoy the journey is to enjoy life.

One final link to a post I found interesting, discussing the relative nature of time at different ages and putting forward a hypothesis about the number of “lifetimes” one experiences. An interesting theory, although I propose that by the time he reaches my age a revision will be forthcoming to insert at least a few more lifetimes subsequent to lifetime #6:)



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