Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink

What are some drivers that motivate us? According to best selling author on business, work, and management, Daniel Pink states that we need to get away from motivation 2.0 and move towards motivation 3.0. There are three elements that motivate us to getting stuff done: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Despite what we think we know about extrinsic rewards, Daniel argues that depending on how money is used as a motivator, it can actually have negative effects on the intended outcome. Here are some of the points to the book:


1. For those of you who are motivated by money, money won’t motivate you as much as you think it does. I’ve heard numerous times that prior to starting a business, it better be in something that you enjoy doing rather than chasing lucrative opportunities that you have no interest or desire in. Four economists-two from MIT, one from Carnegie Mellon, and one from the University of Chicago – undertake research for the Federal Reserve System, one of the most powerful economic actors in the world. But instead of affirming a simple business principle – higher rewards lead to higher performance – they seem to refute it. And it’s not just American researchers reaching these counterintuitive conclusions. In 2009, scholars at the London School of Economics – alma mater of eleven Nobel laureates in economics- analyzed fifty-one studies of corporate pay-for-performance plans. These economists’ conclusion: ‘We find that financial incentives…can result in a negative impact on overall performance.’


2. Those who are motivated by intrinsic rewards perform much better than those who are motivated by extrinsic rewards. One of the reasons why I continue running this website is because I love receiving positive feedback from my readers, it’s so intrinsically rewarding. It’s because of you guys that keeps me going and that drives me to try to put out better content. Not to say that I’m great at it, but that positive feedback fuels me to keep giving back better stuff. The less evidence of extrinsic motivation during art school, the more success in professional art both several years after graduation and nearly twenty years later.’ Painters and sculptors who were intrinsically motivated, those for whom the joy of discovery and the challenge of creation were their own rewards, were able to weather the tough times-and the lack of remuneration and recognition-that inevitably accompany artistic careers. And that led to yet another paradox in the Alice in Wonderland world of the third drive. ‘Those artists who pursued their painting and sculpture more for the pleasure of the activity itself than for extrinsic rewards have produced art that has been socially recognized as superior,’ the study said. ‘It is those who are least motivated to pursue extrinsic rewards who eventually receive them.’


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3. Giving money as a reward only really works when it’s rewarding tasks that don’t require much cognitive function and isn’t very interesting. Rewarding tasks that require some sort of creativity is where it hinders performance. This is very vital as you don’t want unintended outcomes. For routine tasks, which aren’t very interesting and don’t demand much creative thinking, rewards can provide a small motivational booster shot without the harmful side effects. In some ways, that’s just common sense. As Edward Deci, Richard Ryan, and Richard Koestner explain, ‘Rewards do not undermine people’s intrinsic motivation for dull tasks because there is little or no intrinsic motivation to be undermined. Likewise, when Dan Ariely and his colleagues conducted their Madurai, India, performance study with a group of MIT students, they found that when the task called for ‘even rudimentary cognitive skill,’ a larger reward ‘led to poorer performance.’ But ‘as long as the task involved only mechanical skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance.’


4. For those of you who are having troubles with completing your to-do lists, try the opposite and create a “to don’t” list. Most of us have a to-do list. But legendary management guru Tom Peters also has what he calls ‘to don’t’ list – an inventory of behaviors and practices that sap his energy, divert his focus, and ought to be avoided. Follow his lead and each week craft your own agenda of avoidance. Staying motivated-directing your own life, making progress, and pursuing purpose-isn’t easy. So get rid of the unnecessary obligations, time-wasting distractions, and useless burdens that stand in your way. And the first step in bulldozing these obstacles is to enumerate them. As Peters puts it, ‘What you decide not to do is probably more important than what you decide to do.’

By Ryan Lee


My rating:
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Check out the book here:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK


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1 Comment

  1. […] heard and read numerous times that very rarely do extrinsic factors get you motivated. In the book Drive written by Daniel Pink, he states that money doesn’t motivate you as much as you think it would […]


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