1. The Curiosity Spark.
This spark is about the pursuit of a burning question. Is there something you need to know, an answer you feel deeply called to figure out or a solution to a problem that just won’t let you go? Examples of people often fueled by a fierce curiosity spark might include scientists, entrepreneurs and even media producers and authors. As Albert Einstein profoundly said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”
2. The Fascination Spark.
This spark is about a deep fascination or interest in a particular topic, field or idea. It’s not about a specific problem or question; it’s more about some intrinsic connection with something. It often begins in childhood and stays with us for life, but fascination sparks can emerge upon exposure to new experiences or ideas in the blink of an eye. Examples might include art historians, hobbyists and really anyone who loves to read and research on a topic for no other reason beyond the deep gratification that comes from deepening into an interest. Truly, some of the unhappiest, unmotivated people I’ve ever met are those who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Deep fascination and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any bit of happiness or motivation is only fleeting, because there’s nothing substantial to make it last.
3. The Immersion Spark.
This spark is about the feeling of absorption or becoming lost in a task or entire process. It’s what athletes often describe as being “in the zone” and social scientists call “flow.” It’s about being utterly lit-up and consumed by the process of an activity, without regard to the end. Even though the pursuit of this all-immersive experience also often leads to astonishing accomplishment, that’s not the core driver. A couple great examples would be crafters and artists. Sure, they end up creating beautiful things, but for many, that’s just an added bonus. The real thing that lights them up is the ability to get lost in a process. On your average day, immersion sparks are those flashes of intense living when you’re engrossed in a meaningful task that makes you feel more alive. These optimal experiences can happen when you’re engaged in work, paid or unpaid, which move you. Work like this is something you could be pursuing on a daily basis.
4. The Mastery Spark.
This spark is all about the devoted pursuit of improvement. You may not be obsessed with having to become the best in the world at something, but the feeling of progress – the ability to check growth markers off along a journey – is what keeps you committed to the experience. It often doesn’t really even matter what the subject matter is, as along as there is a well-defined path to excellence and an ability to measure progress along the way. Martial arts is a great example, with it’s clearly demarked “belt” system, where you can progress down a path to mastery and always know what it takes to get to the next level. Perhaps Winston Churchill said it best: “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
5. The Service Spark
This final spark is all about helping others. For many, knowing that, in some way, you’ve made a difference in the lives of others is the single biggest driver. It’s the thing that makes you feel most lit-up and motivated. Interestingly, a service spark may be connected to a particular person or group, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, that “other” doesn’t even have to be human. It could be animals, plants or even the bigger concept of the environment or planet. Members of clergy and volunteers are often fueled by profound service sparks. What kind of service motivates you? Think about it. In the long run, real love only intensifies by sharing. You can only have more of what motivates you by giving it away to others.