The book, DRIVE, written by Daniel Pink, is all about what motivates people. The main topics are based on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and why they work, and don’t.
Extrinsic motivation is about reward and punishment, which means “do this and get that” as the motivator. Extrinsic motivators can work well for mechanical work, repetitive tasks or so-called algorithmic work, but for more complex tasks that call for creativity, extrinsic motivators are actually counterproductive.
Intrinsic motivation comes from within us and it’s about the joy of doing something, getting better at something and spreading our ideas. There are three key aspects to intrinsic motivation:
We want to grow and develop ourselves
We want free-will and control over our lives
We want to have a reason to do thing and serve the greater good
Pink also explains three types of motivation:
MOTIVATION 1.0 (Extrinsic)
The key word here is SURVIVAL. Doing things to survive such as, eat food so I don’t die, read books to gain knowledge, etc.
MOTIVATION 2.0 (Extrinsic)
The key words here are REWARD VS. PUNISHMENT. This has been used to manipulate and control people to make them do things and is a result of MOTIVATION 1.0
MOTIVATION 3.0 (Intrinsic)
The key words here are, as previously mentioned, MASTERY, AUTONOMY AND PURPOSE. Pink believes offering these three things will get people to do their best and be very motivated.
The problem we face when trying to sufficiently motivate people is that we think the destination or goal is more enjoyable than the process. We think people are motivated by money instead of fulfillment and a higher purpose. When we give rewards or punishments or extrinsic motivation, we set aside vision and personal goal-oriented work and the possibility that they are enough reward to motivate people. Extrinsic motivation makes the reward or punishment the main purpose for doing things, which kills creativity and turns the feeling of wanting to do something out of passion to the feeling of having to do something to survive.
Daniel Pink says, “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement”. Control limits the possibilities for creativity and self-motivation, and I believe the need for control is mainly the absence of trust in others. Now, if you take that idea and put it in a company, that means “here’s your job, follow the guide book and don’t screw up or else”, which doesn’t sound very motivating, but more so degrading, demoralizing and completely based on fear. Now on the other hand, let’s take autonomy, which I understand as meaning, “here’s a job, I give you freedom to find problems and solutions for them, because I trust you”, which sounds very motivating and based on love.
I think for me, I have seen this type of extrinsic motivation in education and around the whole educational institution. “You have to go to school, to get a good job, so you can survive”, instead of “find your passion and if you need help, there are educators that can help you learn what you need to fulfill your desires”. Another good one is, “bad grades equal bad person”, which is based on “extrinsic motivation”. Thus, if you are good student you will receive a reward of being a good human. These things for me personally kill the passion of wanting to learn things out of shear interest and replace it with wanting to learn to merely survive, or get good grades.
The biggest take away for me is to remember that I shouldn’t look for others to find ways to motivate me. I need to care about what I’m doing and only seek others to perhaps provide the help to do so. I understand that money cannot be the sole motivator in the long-term and that the process must be trusted and loved to be successful.