With his usual talent for organization and clarity, Daniel Pink, the author of Drive, offers the following tweet-sized summary of the book: “Carrot and stick are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery and purpose.”
In these challenging economic times, it may seem strange to suggest that people are not primarily motivated by external rewards, but Pink makes a compelling case for the fact that internal motivation is what is really driving us, once basic living needs are met.
If you don’t believe this can produce something of real value, he is saying, just consider the many open-source Internet initiatives, e.g., OpenOffice.org, Mozilla Firefox, WordPress, Linux, etc., with new ones cropping up almost every day, run by volunteers who have chosen to put their energy where their authenticity lies.
Just as we are now facing the challenge of replacing fossil fuels, which are becoming depleted, with alternatives that can be replenished, so the task of the work-seeker today is to harness the “renewable energy sources” that come from being self-directed.
These initiatives model a new way of operating in the business world that offers inspiration to forward-thinking professionals for enhancing both their performance and their enjoyment of their work.
To pull out of the slump we’re in, we need new ideas from business writers like Pink. Drive skillfully turns decades of behavioral research and the innovative thinking of great business minds like Douglas McGregor and Peter Drucker into an easily digestible recipe for professional success.
Here are few ideas from the book which have particular relevance to work-search and career satisfaction.
Like computers, our culture is guided by “operating systems” which become obsolete over time.
In the last century, success under what Pink calls “Motivation 2.0” required only conformity with the protocols of job-search and compliance with a job description.
This century’s upgrade to “Motivation 3.0” asks for the level of engagement that produces mastery, an engagement that is driven by internal motivation, not external rewards.
This is true not only for workers, but also for work-searchers. They can no longer go through the motions and just follow the rules. They must demonstrate engagement and mastery in how they conduct their search.
One of my clients has a passion for problem-solving and a deep reverence for the environment. He recently graduated from a prestigious university with a degree in physics, and instead of putting together a resume based on college successes which did not reflect the totality of his interests and scrambling for any job he could find, he created his own post-graduate program by committing himself to learning as much as he could about sustainability.
He now shares his insights in a blog called Pondering the World. He is effectively demonstrating who he is and how he can contribute. For him, internal motivation not only drives self-discovery, it proactively shapes his professional future.
TYPE X OR TYPE I
“Motivation 2.0” fostered “Type X” people, driven by “X-trinsic” rewards—salary, benefits, bonuses, stock options, perks, etc.
“Motivation 3.0” values “Type I” behavior which focuses on the “I-ntrinsic” value of the work itself.
Pink describes the Type I person as someone who is, “self directed … devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters … a quest for excellence that is connected to a higher purpose.” Non-traditional approaches to work-search fit these criteria and represent the pursuit of long-term goals.
A LONG-TERM CAREER STRATEGY
Chasing external rewards may deliver results in the short-term, but our energy stops flowing when it is not renewed by excitement about what we are doing.
We can’t expect to sustain ourselves over the full span of our professional lives—particularly since for the generations of people currently working it is likely to be significantly longer than it was for previous generations—without being internally connected to our work.
It will also be essential to our long-term work security in an increasingly competitive marketplace that we narrow the gap between what we do by choice and what we do for a living.
An interruption in employment, though painful and difficult, is also an opportunity to upgrade ourselves from “Motivation 2.0” and break free of the “Type X” mindset. It offers a chance to begin the process of finding work that more fully engages us.
Scientific research proves that human beings have “an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined and connected to one another … and that when this drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”
Just as we now facing the challenge of replacing fossil fuels, which are becoming depleted, with alternatives that can be replenished, so the task of the work-seeker today is to harness the “renewable energy sources” that come from being self-directed.