Drive Book Summary: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Accessory To Success December 23, 2020

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Drive Book Summary: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Main Takeaway

Drive is an engaging, enlightening half business and half self-help book. Motivation is what drives us to do what we do, well. In this book Daniel Pink shares “the surprising truth about what motivates us”.

Carrot and stick approach, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, and many more concepts contained in this book, show you how to stay motivated, how to motivate others at work and even bring out the best in your kids. It is a book on the evolution of motivation and how best to use intrinsic motivation to your desired end.

What You Will Learn

  • Why carrot or stick motivators are not relevant in the 21st century. See the flaws in the outdated carrot and stick motivation method and make Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose your new mantra. They are the true motivators
  • Contingent rewards can wreak havoc and are detrimental to the creative process. They become demotivators in the long run
  • Understand and adopt the four essentials of autonomy – tasks, time, technique and team
  • “If/then rewards Vs now/that rewards”
  • There is a big gap between what science knows and what businesses do
  • How repetitive and monotonous tasks (Algorithmic tasks) respond well to extrinsic motivators or rewards
  • How creative work (Heuristic tasks) thrives well when intrinsically motivated and extrinsic motivators prove to be detrimental to these types of tasks
  • Why Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are the new paradigm of motivation
  • “Goldilocks Tasks” – tasks with a good balance, challenge and bite to them are the best tasks companies can give employees
  • Purpose Vs Profit
  • Differences between the personality and behavior of Type I and Type X people.

The Book Summary

We are well into the 21st century. Yet, much of our motivation concepts are outdated and ineffective in the current environment. Be it motivation to self, children, spouses, teams, employees – we tend to fall back on the old carrot and stick method.

This is simply a “do well, get a reward. Don’t do well, get punished” approach. In company parlance it means perform well and get better pay/bonus, do not perform as per expectations and get minimal bonus, downsizing of paycheck, or even fired.

Rewards and their relevance are very well explained by the “if, then” and “now, that” concepts. “If you do this, then you get a reward”, used to work well and will still work well in the short term and for mundane, boring tasks which can be easily automated.

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Pink recommends using the “now, that” method of rewarding in the current times. “Now that this work has been so well executed by you, you deserve a reward” is a responsive reward unlike the “if, then” reward which is akin to using a whip.

Pink shares that there is a big gap between what science has proven and what businesses actually do. "Too many organizations—not just companies, but governments and nonprofits as well—still operate from assumptions about human potential and individual performance that are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than in science.” Drive is all about bridging this gap with a new management and motivation approach, which includes Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

External motivators like money, a hefty bonus, better grades, an award, other incentives – work for boring, routine tasks. However, they are effective only for a short period of time as the novelty of these incentives fades shortly. Concentration on the reward takes away creativity, encourages people to cheat and adopt shortcuts.

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Intrinsic or internal motivation is when you enjoy the task for itself. These are the tasks or works you do for internal satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, for the simple joy of doing it and the pride you feel on completion of the task. It is similar to a child playing with a toy – just curiosity and enjoyment are the intrinsic motivators there. Another award winning book about getting people to do things is INFLUENCE.

Tasks requiring creativity show best results when intrinsic motivators are in play. Essential elements of intrinsic motivators are:

Autonomy: Self drive and being free to make your own choices of work and how you can best do it. Autonomy is basically, the freedom to do what you do best at a time when you are most inspired to do so and using your own intelligence and techniques to best accomplish this.

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It is to be self-driven and be your own boss. Companies like Google and Facebook have successfully adopted this culture and the birth of Gmail and Google Maps are the proud result of this autonomy to their employees. A more specific book on this subject would be Work Rules! which provide insights from inside Google. It will transform how you live and lead.

Mastery: This is when you get more skilled at what you do and become more recognized for your work. Deliberate practice, setting clear goals, consistency and constant performance review to check mistakes and improve – are the touchpoints to master your craft. Practicing should be purposeful too and the book GRIT talks all about that.

Pink talks about “Goldilocks Tasks”tasks that are not too hard, not too easy, just right to ensure that you are getting better without getting stressed. Management should try to provide each employee with balanced tasks to keep them sufficiently challenged and interested and yet not become stressed.

Purpose: Work we undertake should have a purpose and we should be aware that our actions are fulfilling a higher purpose or even a common group purpose. Awareness of purpose will lead us to appreciate the impact of our contribution and this motivates us to put forth our best.

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Profit in the form of rewards may sustain us for a short period, but purpose is what gives us passion, pride and the ability to sustain long term.

Type I behavior is a way of approaching your life that is built around intrinsic motivators. Everyone needs to feel they are in charge of the direction of their life. We want to choose what to learn and create, to become better people in a better world. This vision and decision making is Type I behavior.

Type X behavior is built around extrinsic motivators and desires. This behavior is much less focused on inherent satisfaction from the activities in daily life and much more focused on the external rewards that will come from completing the activities. The differentiation is very clear.

Another book that might be interesting to read on these last points is Stumbling On Happiness.

About The Author

Daniel H. Pink is the author of six provocative, bestselling books about business, work, and human behavior. He draws on 50 years of behavioral science to overturn our wisdom on motivation. Drive spent 159 weeks on the New York Times bestseller lists and has been translated into 37 languages.

In 2019, Pink was named the 6th most influential management thinkers in the world by Thinkers 50. Pink was host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control,” a television series about human behavior on the National Geographic Channel that aired in more than 100 countries. He has appeared frequently on NPR, PBS, ABC, CNN, and other TV and radio networks in the US and abroad.

He has been a contributing editor at Fast Company and Wired as well as a business columnist for The Sunday Telegraph. His articles and essays have also appeared in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications.

From 1995-1997, Pink served as chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore. He is also the proud recipient of honorary doctorates from many prestigious universities like Georgetown University, the Pratt Institute, the Ringling College of Art and Design, and Westfield State University.
Accessory To Success
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