I Desire You, I Want You

How crossing a bridge I stumbled upon an interesting story and why I had to spent hours researching Italian love stories.

While in Opole yesterday, I had to go the City Center to find an ATM. It wasn’t far, so I took a walk rather then driving. Turns out it was an excellent idea. Despite a really terrible weather forecast, it was still very warm, a little muggy, but it wasn’t raining. To get to the commercial part of town from the German Consulate, I had to cross the Młynówka river using an old, beautiful, green bridge called “Most Groszowy” (Penny Bridge) or “Most Westchnień” (Bridge of Sighs). I’m usually not the type of guy to notice that, but the bridge surroundings were quite nice –  birds singing in the nearby trees and bushes, the quiet river underneath. I can see how on a starry night, with the soothing sound of water and under moonlight, this can be quite a romantic place.

A local tradition - many locks on the foot bridge over the Odra river.I’m not the most observant person, but crossing the bridge for the second time, on my way back to the Consulate, I’ve noticed a few padlocks hanging on the painted green cast iron fencing of the bridge. I decided that with a right angle, this could be an interesting picture. Without thinking, I aimed, shot and I was back on my way. Only later I started asking myself, what’s the meaning of those locks…?

After getting back home I researched the subject on the internet. Few years ago, local students in an attempt to create a new tradition, adapted an Italian custom. Apparently, the practice was first described by Federico Moccia, an Italian writer. In his love story novel called Ho Voglia DI TE (I Desire You, I Want You), the main characters close a padlock on with their names engraved on it on a bridge, than kiss and throw the key into the Tiber river, near Rome. Today, one can find similar bridges in Paris, Florence, Venice and Moscow.

While researching the subject, I found that Federico Moccia is very popular among especially young readers across Europe. Ho Voglia DI TE (I Desire You, I Want You) is a continuation to Tre metri sopra il cielo (Three Steps Over Heaven). They tell a story of Babi, a girl from a so-called “good home”, a great student and exemplary daughter, who as a result of a coincident meets Step, an aggressive hooligan, whose life consists of exercises in the gym, races on a motorcycle and senseless fighting. Despite the radically different characters they fall in love, and… so on, and so on. I’m not going to spoil it for you. There’s also a movie version of the “Ho Voglia Di Te” for those who don’t like or have no time reading.

Obviously, I didn’t read those books, just the teasers I’ve found in the internet. Sounds like a great read for my wife and something I want my daughter never to put her hands on!

What Motivates Us

Put the stick in the corner and feed that carrot to your donkey! We don’t need to be managed to be efficient, just give us a little breathing room and we thrive.

When I first published the news about our Sabbatical, we’ve received a lot of feedback. Some of it as comments in this blog, even more on Facebook and other social media. Most of them very personal, but some people also commented on the professional reasons that drove us into the decision. Specifically, the motivation in the work place.

Daniel H. PinkI was surprised to read that my ideas expressed in that post have resemblance to theories build by Daniel H. Pink in his Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Intrigued, in such comparison I decided to explore that subject.

According to Daniel H. Pink, everything we know about motivation is wrong. In the traditional model, adopted by the corporate world, people are driven by fear of loss and hope of gain, or the anecdotal stick and carrot. However, according to latest studies, this is not only inaccurate, it’s flat out wrong. In a nutshell, bonus plans and performance evaluations are counter productive in any kind of work environments. Especially for professionals, they reduce our ability to produce creative solutions to problems. It’s not the carrot and the stick anymore. Apparently, after we meet our basic needs, what motivates us today is our ability to grow and develop our potential.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t realize or are not ready to admit those new scientific studies and continue to feed us carrots and beat us with a stick. There are a few exceptions though, pioneers who experiment with different approaches:

  • Employees creativity thrives in Google’s legendary work environment. One day a week, engineers at the internet giant are free to work on projects of their choosing.
  • Few years ago, Best Buy introduced a concept called ROWE – Results Only Work Environment, in which employees are free to work when- and where- ever they want, as long as they reach agreed objectives.

It’s true that I’ve read about the above examples already before, which may explain why my ideas appeared similar to those expressed by Daniel H. Pink in his latest book. I read about ROWE couple of years ago and wondered at that time if a similar concept would work at my company. In theory, assuming mature organization and strong management, we have an almost perfect environment to implement ROWE. Except for the manufacturing area, results only work environment could be adapted in all other parts of the business. After all, we are a projects based engineering company and we pay professionals to be creative and not to push papers around, don’t we…? Those that (used) to work with me know the answer to that question… I think it also applies to many other businesses in the modern world. We have twenty first century technology and nineteenth century mentality, when it comes to what motivates people in the work place…

Pink, in his book doesn’t only talk about motivation in the work place, even though this seems to be his area of focus. He also gives pointers on how to adapt this new studies in your day-to-day life and in appendices you’ll find tips on applying it to fitness, children, etc…

If you’re interested, you can get your own copy of the Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us at Amazon for under USD $10.