Drive by Daniel Pink

Drive
Drive (Amazon)

The premise of Drive is that “if-then” rewards don’t motivate us, and actually what people need are three things – Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. I.e. you want a higher reason for doing what you’re doing, be working towards mastery in the process, and have as much control as possible about when/where/how you do that.

The cover of Drive says “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”, but there wasn’t much that was shocking to me. Perhaps that’s because I’m a programmer – one profession where managers have already embraced “Motivation 3.0” (Google is held up as a shining example, IBM definitely gave EB interns a lot of autonomy).

Pink does a good job of organizing the research around motivation, particularly I’m interested by Carol Dweck’s work on having a “growth” rather than a “fixed” mentality. With a fixed mentality, everything you achieve (or don’t achieve) is a commentary on your innate abilities. With a growth mentality, everything is a learning process.

The pursuit of flow (coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) and the idea of “Goldilocks tasks” (tasks that are neither too difficult nor to easy – key to achieving the state flow) are interesting.

My favorite concept is the difference between extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation means being motivated by external factors – like job title, or money. Intrinsic motivation comes from within – from enjoyment in the task, or working towards a higher purpose. People who are intrinsically motivated tend to perform better.

In all, worth a read, but I think you can get the majority of the value from the book out of Pink’s TED talk (embedded below). But before you watch it – take the survey and determine whether you’re “Type I” or “Type X”.

This book appealed to me at the moment because I’m feeling low on motivation with my thesis. Having read it, I’m not any more motivated, but I do have a better idea as to why – and as a result what I can do to improve things.

I feel like what I do lacks purpose. I’m increasingly demoralized that academia is not a place that values what I find interesting. It’s started to make me question the point of what I do. The thesis is a big, intimidating thing that is freaking me out. I need to break it down into smaller subtasks that are more “Goldilocks” in nature.

Want my copy of Drive? Tell me in the comments or on Twitter (@catehstn) and I’ll pick a winner at random and post it to you! H/T to the lovely Julie for this idea!

4 thoughts on “Drive by Daniel Pink

  1. Also, I finally got around to actually watching the TED talk. Wow. Just, wow. I’m interested now in learning more about the nuts and bolts of how to figure out your own intrinsic motivators when it comes to executing goals. Talk is cheap, you know? How do we put intrinsic motivation into a workable methodology?

  2. I would love your copy of Drive! I will head to TED to check out the talk as well. I am going to follow you on twitter as well (gdblogger1)

    gdblogger1 at gmail dot com

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