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Book Review - Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Daniel Pink)


Book Details (Drive by Daniel Pink)

  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

  • Book Author: Daniel H. Pink

  • Published: 2009

Main Message Of Drive by Daniel Pink

Intrinsic motivation is more effective than extrinsic motivation.

**This was also a podcast episode (episode #231). If you'd like to listen to this conversation, use the link below.

Ep. 231 - Book Review, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink


Overview Of Motivation

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

  • Intrinsic Motivation - when we are incentivized/motivated to complete a task simply because we find it interesting or enjoyable.

  • Extrinsic Motivation - when we are incentivized/motivated to complete a task by an external reward.

3 components of Intrinsic Motivation = (1) Autonomy, (2) Mastery & (3) Purpose

  • Autonomy - when you have control over the 4 T’s: (1)Task, (2)Time, (3)Technique and (4)Team, you're more motivated to complete the task and continue moving forward towards the outcome.

  • Mastery - the deliberate practice to get better, receive fast feedback to improve/learn, and consistency to improve/learn helps your motivation to keep going, even when things aren't going the way you hoped.

  • Purpose - when you understand the higher purpose or impact your work has, this motivates you to continue, regardless of the setbacks that may come your way on the path to the outcome.

“As an entrepreneur, I’m blessed with 100% autonomy over task, time, technique and team. Here’s the thing: If I maintain that autonomy, I fail. I fail to ship. I fail to excel. I fail to focus. I inevitably end up either with no product or a product the market rejects. The art of the art is picking your limits. That’s the autonomy I most cherish. The freedom to pick my boundaries.” - Seth Godin

The Carrot & Stick Method Doesn't Work Anymore

The idea of rewards and punishments in exchange for work done that was created during the 1900's when it made sense but it no longer works.

Self Determined Theory

We have 3 psychological needs - (1) competence, (2) autonomy, and (3) relatedness.  When we have these, we are motivated, productive and happy.

The Three Laws Of Mastery

(1) Mastery Is A Mindset; (2) Mastery Is A Pain; (3) Mastery Is An Asymptote 

  • Mindset - this is based on Carol Dweck's research and book on fixed and growth mindsets. Fixed Mindsets are those who have an "entity theory" belief that intelligence is an entity in a finite supply that we cannot increase. However, those with a Growth Mindset subscribe to an "incremental theory" and believe that intelligence is something we can increase.

  • Pain - this is based on Anders Ericson's research on performance which states that mastery isn't easy, often isn't fun and can even hurt. "Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the results of intense practice for a minimum of 10 years."

  • Asymptote - this is a straight line that a curve approaches but never actually reaches. The thing about mastery is that you can get close to it but you'll never actually reach the destination of "mastery". The point isn't to reach it, the joy and fulfillment is in the pursuit.

Quotes & Notes From Drive (Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 8. Studies show that money helps in the short term with motivation but not in the long term. Intrinsic motivation helps in the long term. Rewards (money, etc) deliver a short term boost (like caffeine) but the effects wear off. (Drive, Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 30. Intrinsic motivation is conducive to creativity, controlling extrinsic motivation is detrimental to creativity. (Drive, Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 50. A study (16 in citations) said that ‘goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy. But goals imposed by others (sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized tests) can sometimes have dangerous side effects.’ (Drive, Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 90 - Autonomous motivation versus controller motivation. ‘Controlled motivation involves behaving with the experience of pressure and demand towards specific outcomes the comes from forces perceived to be external to the self’. (Drive, Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 95. There is power in free time and several companies have embraced this idea. FedEx, Google, etc. Post-it notes were thought of during a 15% free time of someone at 3M.  (Drive, Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 121. Performance goals versus learning goals. Getting an A in French class (performance) versus learning to speak French (learning). (Drive, Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 124. Grit - ‘defined as perseverance and passion for long term goals’ (Drive, Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 124. ‘Mastery - of sports, music, business - requires effort (difficult, painful, excruciating, all-consuming effort) over a long time (not a week or a month but a decade). (Drive, Daniel Pink)

  • Pg 158. Anders Ericsson: deliberate practice. "A lifelong period of effort to improve performance in a specific domain. The only objective is to improve performance. Repetition matters. Seek constant, critical feedback, focus ruthlessly on where you need help and prepare for the process to be mentally and physically exhausting." (Drive, Daniel Pink)

Woman working on a laptop

How I've Personally Applied The Learnings From Drive (Daniel Pink)

Identifying Mastery Focus

The idea of mastering something is a great way to stay focused as an entrepreneur. While we can never reach a mastery level, that's not the point but rather if we choose to master something, we will stay focused on that.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to niche down and that often feels daunting but if you can identify something you're willing to dedicate 10+ years to master, this is your niche.

Setting Goals

With both myself and my clients, when talking about goals it's great to know the numbers and aim for the shiny thing but what really matters is understanding WHY the goal is important. If the goal isn't truly important to you, it means you're focused on extrinsic motivation and when things get tough, you're more likely to give up. If you choose a goal you're intrinsically motivated to achieve, you're more likely to continue to make progress.

Assessing Actions

When I notice a difference between what I or someone says they want to do and what the actual actions are, this is where we have to dig in. Many times our actions are telling us what's more important to us (intrinsic motivation) and therefore, we can follow those breadcrumbs to refine the goal/outcome that we need to focus on.

As entrepreneurs, we often take action and stay busy but what we really need to do is to be intentional with our actions and focus only on those that will move us forward towards the outcome we truly want. Looking at the 4 T's (task, time, technique, and team), we need to be extremely intentional or else we are wasting all of our autonomy.


Take Away Message / Action

Explore what you want to master. It's often talked about as defining your niche in entrepreneurship but let's flip that and ask: what do I want to master? What am I willing to spend 10,000 hours on and say no to other things too?

Until next time, give yourself permission to master something and grace along the way. I'll talk to you soon.

Other Resources:

Ep 231 - Book Review - Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

"We can accomplish so much more and be so much happier if we focus on intrinsic motivation instead of extrinsic."

- Amanda McKinney


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