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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Book & Media Rec)

I recently finished the unabridged audiobook of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink (read by the author). Although much of the information I had run across from other sources, Mr. Pink does an outstanding job of explaining how much of what businesses, educators, and parents have been using to motivate people is antiquated and even counterproductive. This is truly one of the best organized books I have ever read, which made it a pleasure to read (er, listen to). Also, Mr. Pink is an excellent voice narrator, which isn’t usually the case with authors reading their own books.

Mr. Pink eloquently debunks the commonly held belief that “Motivation 2.0” (which is basically using rewards and punishments, or carrots & sticks, to modify behavior) is the best method to “incentivise” behavior. It’s not that there’s never a place for rewards and punishments to obtain desired behaviors. Motivation 2.0 works very well for repetitive, menial, and rudimentary tasks because those tasks don’t have an inherent appeal that can naturally motivate people. However, using rewards and punishments can actually decrease or undermine performance for tasks that are more complicated and/or require more conceptual, creative thinking.

Psychologists have been publishing such findings for years but, despite these findings, business practices have been largely tethered to the Motivation 2.0 approach. However, as these findings are replicated by more psychologists, top economists, and sociologists, the word and implications are slowly spreading. As an alternative, Motivation 3.0 capitalizes on deeper, more powerful, and sustaining motivators that lead to better performance and greater personal satisfaction. These Motivation 3.0 factors are: autonomy (self-direction/choice in the work/educational environment), mastery (a chance to improve with challenges), and purpose (working for something with a larger, more meaningful purpose). Mr. Pink makes a compelling case (citing many examples from studies and real-world business outcomes) that creating work and educational environments based on Motivation 3.0 rather than 2.0 leads to more positive outcomes (at least if the work is of a more complicated nature and requires creative thinking).

Mr. Pink reviews the potential dangers of Motivation 2.0, the benefits of Motivation 3.0, and gives specific, practical tips and strategies for businesses, educators, and parents to utilize in order to achieve better outcomes (e.g., long-term sustained business growth, improved employee satisfaction, reduced turnover, greater educational gains). As a bonus, Mr. Pink lists a number of books he recommends and why – a very handy tool if you would like to learn more about some of the concepts covered in Drive. Finally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in a book before, but he does a chapter-by-chapter recap of the book – just so you can have a useful refresher.

So, check out Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. You will find countless ways to apply the concepts from this book to improve your work, management, parenting, and life-satisfaction.


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