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

driveIn our offices and our classrooms we have way too much compliance and way too little engagement. The former might get you through the day, but only the latter will get you through the night. In his book Daniel Pink writes about motivation, what people have thought about it during the years, and about inspiring environments of the future. Below are some of my notes from the book.




When institutions – families, schools, businesses, and athletic teams, for example – focus on the short-term and opt for controlling people’s behavior, they do considerable long-term damage.

If-then rewards require people to forfeit some of their autonomy.

Not always, but a lot of time, when you are doing a piece for someone else it becomes more “work” than joy. When I work for myself there is the pure joy of creating and I can work through the night and not even know it. On a commissioned piece you have to check yourself – be careful to do what the client wants.

Two types of tasks: 1) Algorithmic – following a set path 2) Heuristic – breaking from the path do discover a novel strategy. Extrinsic rewards can be effective for algorithmic tasks. For more right-brain undertakings – those that demand flexible problem-solving, inventiveness, or conceptual undertakings – contingent rewards can be dangerous.

Principal-agent theory: rewards are addictive in that once offered, a contingent reward makes an agent expect it whenever a similar task is faced, which in turn compels the principal to use rewards over and over again. Pay your son to take out the trash – and you’ve pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free.

Carrots and sticks can:

  1. extinguish intrinsic motivation
  2. diminish performance
  3. crush creativity
  4. crowd out good behavior
  5. encourage shortcuts and unethical behavior
  6. become addictive
  7. foster short term thinking

Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete. Shift from if-then rewards to now-that rewards.

Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than their reward-seeking counterparts.

Two types of behaviors: 1) fueled by more extrinsic desires than intrinsic ones. It concerns less with the inherent satisfaction and more with reward. 2)  Type I behavior is fueled by intrinsic desires and satisfaction of activity itself. Type I behavior does not disdain money or recognition. Both type X’s and Type I’s care about money.

Type I behavior depends on three nutrients: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Type I behavior is self-directed. It is devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters. And it connects that quest for excellence to a larger purpose.

Autotelic experience – from Greek auto (self) and telos (goal or purpose) is the activity that is self-fulfilling; the activity is its own reward.

Flow – a state of optimal challenge.

Flow friendly environments help people move toward mastery, increase productivity and satisfaction at work.


Mastery is a mindset. Our beliefs about ourselves and the nature of our abilities determine how we interpret our experiences and can set the boundaries on what we accomplish.

Mastery is a pain. The best predictor of success, the researches found, was the prospective cadets’ ratings on a trait known as “grit” – defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals.

Mastery is asymptote. You can approach it. You can home in on it. You can get really, really, really close to it. But you can never touch it. Mastery is impossible to realize fully.

Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the results of intense practice for a minimum 10 years.

Effort is one of the things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it. It would be an impoverished existence if you were not willing to value things and commit yourself to working toward them.

Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.


Motivation 3.0 is expressly build for purpose maximization. The aims of the Motivation 3.0 companies are not to chase profit while trying to stay ethical and law abiding. Their goal is to pursue purpose – and to use profit as the catalyst rather than the objective.

One cannot lead a life that is truly excellent without feeling that one belongs to something greater and more permanent than oneself.

It’s in our nature to seek purpose. But that nature is now being revealed and expressed on a scale that is demographically unprecedented and, until recently, scarcely imaginable. The consequences could rejuvenate our businesses and remake our world.

The science shows that the secret to high performance isn’t our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose.

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