I was impacted by Daniel Pink’s earlier books A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation but at first I bypassed his recent work, Drive: The Surprising Truth About what Motivates Us. I assumed the book was about being driven, a topic that I know well from my own experience. Then I heard Daniel Pink speak and discovered that his book concerns how people are motivated, people like us, our clients, counselees, students and ministry colleagues.
Pink shows that performance and creativity do not always improve when they are linked to the promise of incentives or followed by higher grades, rewards or punishments. We have built whole business models, therapies, and educational systems on the giving or withholding of external rewards or reinforcements. When work is boring or routine that kind of “extrinsic motivation” still works. But reinforcements and incentives can lower performance and engagement when the tasks involve creativity, focused thinking, and problem solving. People engrossed in challenging, meaningful tasks are mostly motivated by inner rewards – often called intrinsic motivations — like the inner satisfaction that comes from finding a solution or making a difference.
Pink divides human behavior into two overlapping categories. Type X behavior involves doing an activity in order to get rewards like extra pay or promotions. Type I behavior is concerned less with the external rewards and more with the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself. Type I people resist being managed, directed, threatened, or controlled by top-down leadership styles. They are more empowered by three innate elements:
- Autonomy is the urge to direct our own lives and to empower others to move forward with a clear sense of independence and self-sufficiency.
- Mastery is the desire to be innovative and creative, doing things that better ourselves and others.
- Purpose involves contributing to a cause that is larger than ourselves, that revitalizes our work and impacts the world.
Are you more of a Type X or a Type I person? Find out at www.danpink.com. How does this relate to how you are motivated or to ways in which you motivate others? Please comment.