Drive by Daniel H. Pink

This is my first book review on this blog and I want to talk about my purpose for these reviews before diving into Drive by Daniel H. Pink.

I think that writing about the books I read will cement their message into my memory and help me critically think about them in the future. I don’t want to read a book and just jump to the next one without pausing and thinking about the things I just learned. Books have so much information in them so I think it is necessary to have a notebook while reading to write down interesting information that stands out to me. These reviews are not meant to be a perfect school book summary of the book or a critical dissection of the authors ability to write.

Drive by Daniel H. Pink is by no means a book I would have picked off the shelves to read. Christina, my wonderful wife, checked this book out at the library because she is on a huge psychology kick right now. Although I didn’t think I would like Drive I almost immediately got into it’s general subject of motivation and how screwed up our understanding of the topic truly is. The old school way of motivation is the “Carrot on a Stick” mentality in which we incentivize good behavior and punish behavior we don’t want. This can be seen in the workforce with bonuses, in education with grades, and in the home with allowances for chores. Before reading this book, I never thought to much about incentives and the negative impacts they can have on our internal drives. Essentially when you have an external incentive you cancel out intrinsic drive and it can turn play into work. Rewards can send performance, creativity, and even upstanding behavior tumbling downward. The only time external rewards are helpful is if a task is algorithmic, inherently boring, and overall awful. Think of getting a bonus after folding five thousand envelopes. In cases of creative/heuristic tasks the motivation needs to come from an intrinsic desire. True intrinsic motivation needs three components: mastery, autonomy, and purpose. Let’s take the example of my goal to master the subject of “History.” My mastery entails pushing my learning through writing/discussion, my venture is completely self-guided (autonomy), and my purpose includes bettering myself and other people with this blog. So there you go, use that simple guideline for motivating yourself and other people. The end of the book has helpful tips on how to apply the principles of motivation and I found many applicable to my future children. Have your children understand why they are learning a certain subject and why it is relevant to their lives to create intrinsic motivation. In terms to the corporate world, the current system of management hawking over employees is outdated and in the future there will be more businesses giving their employees freedom to work when and where they want. This future will be needed because more and more jobs are not algorithmic (I need a large fry and a large burger) but rather heuristic (I need you to brainstorm some marketing ideas for the next quarter). In the end, this book was very good and I would give it three stars. Pick it up and read it.

Words that I learned:

Sanguine-optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation.
Autotelic-having a purpose in and not apart from itself (aka intrinsic motivation)
Indomitable-impossible to defeat or discourage
Equanimity-evenness of mind especially under stress

Summed up learning sentence:

Extrinsic motivation is everywhere but only works for boring mundane tasks and intrinsic motivation is what every human is meant to run on, yet the majority of all organizations squash it like a bug.