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The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Daniel H. Pink

Drive is the first book I read from this author, and it tells me that Daniel is a pragmatic theorist who can deftly balance conceptual notions and practical exercises in a relatively short book.

In Drive, Daniel shows us the gap between what science knows about motivation and how companies capitalize on the 21st-century workforce. What science knows is that the “reward and punishment” system popularized in corporate culture today is outdated. Most of us are running on the Carrots-and-Sticks system invented in the 19th-century, and it demotivates people.

The three-level motivation framework sketched by Daniel demonstrates the idea well, so let me go through it (super-)briefly. Naturally, human beings have biological desires to eat, drink, and having sex. Say our ancestors would do anything to have food, drink, and mates a thousand years ago. This is Motivation 1.0. Until the 19th century, when the value exchange market took on the heat from prospects of potential wealth, businesses started using money to reward workers for the extra effort put into the work. Workers got more money for their not-so-interesting manual, yet simple jobs and companies got more revenue, so it was a win-win deal. This is motivation 2.0, which on which many modern companies are driving their workers. This assumption, however, as Daniel argues, no longer works as it did in its golden days when many modern workers have gone through the threshold of sufficient level of income that more causes less. Less in satisfaction, less in happiness, less in motivation. Earning more doesn’t bear much meaning without meaning in work itself. There the place we should go: Motivation 3.0 driven by intrinsic desires at the individual level.

The three core elements (Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose) Daniel analyzes well resonates with how I feel about my job and my life that I got a chance to re-examine what I am chasing.

To better understand the concepts in this book, there is a lot more to read. But as a book on this hotly discussed topic, Drive deserves people’s recognition.

Winter 2020

October 14, 2020 at 3:00:00 PM


psychology, self-help, business


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