The Surprising Truth About Motivation
Friday, July 16th, 2010
I was recently involved in a Rock and Roll event to raise money for a school library and was amazed at the motivation of parents to the event and the cause. Highly qualified and professional leaders stepped forward and offered their time and expertise with no expectation of reward. Each of them acted and behaved as if it were a paying assignment for an important client. Quality was not compromised because the work was undertaken pro bono. Interestingly most of the parents involved knew that their children would have left the school before the library project commenced. What was behind their amazing motivation?
I was reminded of the parents’ motivation when I read Daniel Pink’s recent book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. Most of us believe the best way of motivating ourselves and others is by external rewards like money – the carrot and stick approach. He demonstrates that the secret to high performance, satisfaction and self motivation is often intrinsic rather than extrinsic e.g. the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things and finally to do better by ourselves and our world. Each of these points appeared to be behind the community’s involvement and it seemed the latter point was the most powerful.
So how can we utilise “purpose” – a cause greater and more enduring than ourselves – to motivate ourselves and our employees? Pink makes the following suggestions – create goals that use profit to reach purpose, in words that emphasize more than self interest and in polices that allow people to pursue purpose in their own terms.