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By Katie Marshall
Work is not an inherently exciting thing. It is, as blatantly and boringly as possible, work. While our social feeds tell us that all of our generational peers are off doing incredibly exciting things like traveling to remote, turquoise islands or meeting celebrities in coffee shops, what we’re all actually doing is work. Even those on islands with fruity drinks next to their laptops. Successful people get to those amazing adventures because they put in the long hours in front of a desk, trudging through the labor of creating something meaningful.
Sometimes, work comes easy. Words flow out like you were made to do nothing but the assignment in front of you. Other times, you are a miner, excavating every part of your brain and heart to find the answers to the problem. While these two possibilities are at least exciting, there are other moments of pure, drudging boredom, where you have things to do, but nothing is inspiring enough to compel you to complete it. What do you do then?
Motivation typically starts with inspiration, which can come from anywhere. While working in an office is nowhere near a mythical battlefield or high-stakes sports game, I have found that watching certain movie scenes, commercials, or other performances can hype me up to the point where I can actually face and defeat the drudgery in front of me. Similar to a mythical battle scene. Here are 10 of my go-to’s.
1. Aragorn at the Black Gate, Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King.
Nothing convinces me I am a warrior and my work is a villain quite like Lord of the Rings. Because a day may come when an Excel spreadsheet defeats me, but it is not this day. On this day, I FIGHT!
2. Flip the Script – 2014 USMNT Knockout Round.
I know that the USA Men’s team absolutely lost the game this video was promoting (unlike the USA Women’s team, HEYYO), but watching this video reminds me that even when I am convinced I can’t face the work in front of me, that I can flip the script and accomplish exactly what I need to. Also, the group cheer scenes starting at 1:50 gives me chills. Every time.
3. Rise and Swim (Welcome to the Grind).
The first time I watched this video, I was too busy quoting it in my journal to realize that it was about swimming. I’ve watched it several times since, and my inner mermaid loves the water connections. My inner high performer loves the fact that this video is all about the internal battle: talking yourself into facing the challenge ahead rather than taking the easy way out, which will always be there, ready to wash you away.
4. Carolina Basketball: Honoring Stuart Scott at 2015 Late Night with Roy.
I have zero chill when a group starts Stepping. There’s something about the percussive union of a group, all stepping and hitting together, creating a perfect thunderstorm heartbeat, synchronized. It’s powerful. Step is the personification of Ride or Die. You step, I step with you. You go right, I go left. You’re here, I’m here. And I’m not going anywhere without you. That’s what the University of North Carolina Alpha Phi Alpha Mu Zeta chapter and Tarheel basketball team demonstrated when they delivered an epic step performance in honor of Stuart Scott, the recently deceased and greatly loved ESPN host and UNC Alum, who was also the Step Master for Mu Zeta in 1984. The Stepping is mesmerizing. Even the most hard-pressed ABC (Anything But Carolina) fan will get chills after watching it.
5. David Foster Wallace, Kenynon College Commencement Speech 2005, “This is Water.”
This video changed the way I see everything. Watch it once a month, at least, and see how it changes you, as well.
6. UNCG: We’re the Spartans.
UNCG (The University of North Carolina Greensboro) is my Alma Mater and a place that I am grateful to have attended. It was one of the first places where I learned what it meant to come alive, and how to help others do the same. Recently, the University created and shared this video to show everyone the spirit of the campus and students. My favorite part now and forever is at 2:13: “It takes a lot of guts to say, you know what, this is what I’m going to do, this is how I see myself, and I’m gonna express that. We’re the Spartans. And when you think of a Spartan, a Spartan is brave.”
7. Christian the Lion.
Christian was a lion saved and raised by two trainers. When the lion cub became too big for his church yard home, John Rendall and Ace Berg released him into the wild. Later they learned that Christian had become the head of a pride and were told that since he was in the wilderness, he would most likely not recognize them. They were told wrong. This video makes me believe in the good of the world. Watch the video to see the reunion. And good luck not crying to the scene set to the sweet sounds of Aerosmith.
8. The Raid 2: Hammer Girl, Baseball Bat Man Kitchen Fight Scene.
I have yet to see The Raid in full, but I have watched just about every fight scene from it I can. Here, a gracious YouTuber put three great fights from The Raid 2 together in 9 minutes of pure kick ass-ness. Enjoy the extra adrenaline with your next coffee break to get yourself ready to face whatever your inbox has in store.
9. 300 First Battle Scene
Me, to my workload: “Give this PowerPoint nothing! But take from it, EVERYTHING.”
10. Titus Andromedon: Words of Wisdom
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt did more than give us Jon Hamm practicing Karate in an underground bunker: it gave us characters to root for that reminded us of ourselves at our best. Kimmy is relatable and inspiring in her own ways, and females are absolutely strong as hell, but when I really need someone to push me through the 3pm lull, I turn to Titus Andromedon, the most perfect and scene-stealing supporting role there ever was. I’ve gotten “Pinot Noir” stuck in my head more times than I can count and have loved it every time. When I really need something to push me through to productivity, I go straight for the good stuff.
Work isn’t the hardest thing in the world. There are things much more difficult and exciting. But if we remember that enthusiasm and excitement can generate momentum, then there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Find your inspiration where you can. And get to work!