Human motivation is hard to understand but some triggers are common. Altruism and the need to help others is the highest form of ourselves but difficult to sustain. A prayerful outlook helps, along with a deep practice of doing something meaningful. Do-gooders never lack self-motivation, even when they don’t have resources.

For the majority of the population, the bartering system of the global economy suffices —in order to maintain self-interest just enough to pay the bills on-time and hold onto a job. Being a world citizen is a birthright in itself, and most of us are happy to live another day.

For entrepreneurs, the greatest trigger of all is competition. Life is a game to be won. Business is about maximizing return on investment. Let the best ideas win. The winner-take-all system favors the smartest guys in the room. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists want to solve business problems, first and foremost. Real problems are set aside quickly when short-term rewards are hard to forecast. It’s a lot easier to make money on games like March Madness than trying to fix public schools.

March madness

There’s nothing wrong in incentivizing everything we do in order to get a shot at the prize. Everything is becoming gamified or scored in one way or the other, and the millennial crowd thrives in these systems.

What I worry about is the lack of attention towards solving real problems. We need more prize-laden competitions to encourage giving back.