Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us


Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead, 2011.

Referenced in: Summary

Pink is known for his research about how the mind works, especially his book about the place of right brain thinking in the new economy, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Here he offers a contrarian view on what lies behind motivation. Traditional perspectives hold that people are motivated only by what they stand to gain or lose. Pink contends the real basis of motivation is the “drive” to grow and realize full potential, both individually and collectively.

This motivation to develop oneself and make creative contributions is the highest of three forms of “Drive.” In what resembles the hierarchy of needs from existential psychologists, the three drives include:

  • Drive One, Biological - the base instinct of survival with food, water, shelter
  • Drive Two, Extrinsic - the desire to receive reward and avoid punishment
  • Drive Three, Intrinsic - the intrinsic need for autonomy, the opportunity to pursue mastery, and daily duties that relate to a larger purpose.

For those in situations where they must motivate others, Pink argues against the common strategy of rewarding those who sacrifice their personal dreams and goals in the interest of the organization’s mission. Even less effective is the threat/ punishment model of policing the halls to see if people are in their offices. He stresses satisfying workers’ desire for autonomy, which stimulates their “innate capacity for self-direction.” Examples include Google’s 20 percent time which allows employees to work on personal projects one full day each week, and Best Buy’s “Results Only,” which allows workers to choose when and how they work as long as they meet the understood goals. The performance and satisfaction found in these and other settings cannot be achieved through external motivators. In fact, in challenging situations that require critical thinking and creativity, these motivators may actually reduce productivity. He says:

“We’re designed to be active and engaged. And we know that the richest experiences in our lives aren’t when we’re clamoring for validation from others, but when we’re listening to our own voice - doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of a cause larger than ourselves.”

Pink demonstrates how the intrinsically motivated have higher long-term performance and well-being. He also describes activities that help individuals match their abilities and passions with the existing challenges.

This is an interesting read for motivating church volunteers, especially as it may validate the practice of matching gifts and ministry involvement. It is best viewed, however, alongside the biblical teaching of loving, sacrificial service for the common good

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

Publisher’s Description

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people—at work, at school, at home. It’s wrong. As Daniel H. Pink (author of the forthcoming book To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) explains in his paradigm-shattering book Drive, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation:

  • Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives
  • Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters
  • Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward.

Drive is bursting with big ideas—the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.

About the Author

Daniel H. Pink is the New York Times bestselling author of A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation. He lectures to corporations, associations, and universities in the U.S. and abroad on economic transformation and the changing world of work. In 2007, he won a Japan Society Media Fellowship that took him to Tokyo to study the manga industry.

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