I recently heard a friend ask this question, multiple times, “What am I getting out of this job? What am I giving up just to get a pay check?” When I first heard this question asked, my initial thought was, “Stop griping. You have to work and earn money to get by and raise your kids. Suck it up.” But my view on many things have changed over the last 6 months or so. I no longer think the above questions are flippant. These are very valid questions that everyone should be asking. What brought about this drastic change in my thoughts? I am not sure, but I think that I just want more out of life. I want to experience things, make a difference, and just all around be happy. This is what most people want. I think happiness, or unhappiness, starts with the job you have. Most people spend 40+ hours each week at work, so naturally the feelings you have from that job are going to bleed into all aspects of your daily life. Being truly happy with your job is a very realistic goal. No matter what career you have, Drive by Daniel H. Pink can inspire you to find the right kind of motivation to transform the way you live and work.
I had a summer reading assignment for my new job. You’re probably thinking, boring, right? Well, as someone who loves to read, I am always excited about a reading assignment. My assignment was to read Drive by Daniel H. Pink. Nonfiction is not my go-to genre, but I do like to read nonfiction occasionally, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book. As a reading teacher, you always try to recommend nonfiction books to students, but it is always a little trickier because you really have to match the book to their interests. If you give them a nonfiction book about a topic they aren’t interested in, then you can count on that book sliding to the bottom of their backpack, never to see the light of day until the librarian comes to hunt them down. I am the same way with adults. It is so much easier to recommend fiction when you don’t really know a persons interests, but I would not hesitate to recommend Drive to everyone I know. It now ranks close to the top of my nonfiction favorites list, right along with Quiet by Susan Cain. And now that I think about it, these two books complement each other in a way. But that’s for another post.
So Drive is all about what motivates us. You could easily say this book is just for business professionals, people who run companies and have to manage people, but I very strongly disagree. Yes, a good portion of the book is geared toward business, but everyone in all walks of life could take something from this book. The book talks about extrinsic and intrinsic motivations and the science and history of these two thoughts. The studies that were done to test these motivations were very interesting and filled up the first section of the book, but they all seemed to come to the same conclusion that carrot and stick motivations don’t work. In other words, offering more money and incentives to people to work more or work harder often backfire and don’t work the way you would expect. The book calls this Motivation 2.0, and sadly it’s the way that most businesses are operated. But this kind of work environment doesn’t inspire people. Studies on intrinsic motivation show that people want to have a purpose. They want to have autonomy, and if given the opportunity to be self-directed, the work will get done, and often productivity and job satisfaction will increase. The second part of the book was very interesting because it highlighted business that have put this Motivation 3.0 idea into practice. Companies that give their employees freedom to work their own hours, or time each week to work on whatever they want to work on. There were so many variations to this idea, and all showed positive benefits and results. Did you know that post-it notes were created during a 15% time? An employee created post-it notes during a time when he could work on whatever he wanted. So cool and only one of many similar examples!
This book may have been focusing on the work place in corporate America, but I think everyone could take something away from the ideas in the book. As a parent, do you give your kids if-then chores or ultimatums? If you do your chores, you get an allowance type stuff? The book explains how if-then situations usually backfire. It doesn’t allow a person to develop their own intrinsic motivation. This idea is especially important for parents and educators. We want to teach our kids to be self-motivated, to accomplish things on their own. This develops their curiosity, and inspires them to create and learn. Students who are intrinsically motivated tend to do better in school. The trick is to teach in a way that inspires this intrinsic motivation.
You could easily take ideas from this book and apply to your every day life, not just in the work place. The ideas in this book just reaffirmed for me things that I had already been contemplating. Everyone has goals in life, things they want to do and accomplish. You have to be very intrinsically motivated to reach your goals. You have to take steps towards the things that you want to do. The book says that the new approach to motivation has three main ideas: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. My goals require me to be in control of my own life (autonomy), make the choices that are best for me not what’s best for those on the outside looking in. I want to make progress and get better at something that matters to me (mastery), and I want what I do to be meaningful. We are only here for a short time, so I want everything that I do to matter (purpose). I want to make an impact on the students at my schools, and I want to give my own kids experiences that will better there lives. I am so excited about my new job. I already know that it is going to be a job that truly inspires my intrinsically motivated side. Having a job that you can be happy with is huge. The job you have impacts your whole life. If you are unhappy at work, then you are probably unhappy at home. So I no longer think that questioning your job is silly. We should all have a job that lets us direct our own lives, be creative, and better ourselves and those around us. This book will inspire you to live and work that way.