Book Review: Drive by Daniel Pink

I’m currently reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink, and it’s a fascinating analysis of how the business world views motivation and how that differs from what science is finding actually motivates us. In fact, it is so interesting that I had to write the book review already even though I haven’t finished reading the book yet!

Pink explains that humans are more motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose than by external rewards or threats of punishment. Unfortunately, as anyone who works in the corporate world will know, most companies are still operating as if external rewards are the only motivators without which employees will do nothing. This way of thinking is so entrenched that, we as employees, begin to believe it. Have you ever wondered why you’re still unsatisfied even though you received a bonus or why a raise isn’t making you feel more motivated?

Motivation and the lack of it, is one of those triggers that gets us thinking about calling.

The good news is that scientific experiments have proved and are continuing to prove that human motivation is much more complex, and some very cool companies are taking note! They’re changing the way their businesses work so that their employees can work in environments that allow them to make choices about their tasks, time, team and techiques (autonomy), where they can develop skills through complex and challenging projects (mastery) and where their work is connected with something greater than themselves (purpose). Sound familiar?

I’ve been nodding my head a lot as I read this book, because if the corporate world can catch up with these seemingly-obvious principles (that economists and scientists continue to confirm through various experiments) and start treating employees like the complex, creative humans that we are, then more of us may be able to live out our callings in the workplace rather than outside of it. And companies won’t lose either. Pink has some great examples of how much a company can profit from intrinsically-motivated employees.

Motivation is one of the keys to understanding our callings. When we practice self-awareness and listening, we’re hoping to find what motivates us and pursue those things. This book provides a clear definition of what internal motivation looks like and provides an easy way to assess our situations. Could we ask for more autonomy over a task or our time? Could we devote a couple more hours a week to that hobby or project or activity that we want to master? Is there a higher purpose to our work that we’ve just forgotten or need to develop?

Autonomy, mastery and purpose – does this resonate with you?

Bonus: To get a great quick overview of this book’s premises in a really cool presentation, you should watch this YouTube presentation here.