"Integrate what you believe into every single area of your life. Take your heart to work, and ask the most and best of everybody else too. Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency."
"But there’s always the knowledge, and this is from experience, that the work itself is the reward, and if I choose challenging work, it’ll pay me back with interest. At least I’ll be interested, even if nobody else is. That choice, between the devil and the dream, comes up every day in different little disguises. I’m sure it comes up in every field of endeavor and every life. My advice is to look the dilemma in the face and decide what you can live with. If you can live with the devil, Vassar hasn’t sunk her teeth into your leg the way she did mine. But that conscience, that consciousness of quality, and the need to demand it can galvanize your energies, not just in your work, but in a rigorous exercise of mind and heart in every aspect of your life. I firmly believe that this engagement in the attempt for excellence is what sustains the most well lived and satisfying, successful lives."
From Meryl Streep's address to the 1983 graduating class at Vassar
I graduated from college in 1984 (though not from Vassar). I really feel that this kind of motivational thinking is at the root of what I've been doing over the last 25+ years. I cannot say how grateful I am for the days when this philosophy gets the best of me.