Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Thoughts

I hadn't had a chance to begin reading Daniel H. Pink's book today due to other activities that I have going on this summer until today. I was at work when it started raining hard and I had to come home. Finally having time to read the book, I picked it up and didn't stop reading it until now that I finished it.

The purpose of Pink's book is to present a new view on the topic of motivation. Although it might come as a surprise to some people to learn that external motivation isn't the best tool to coax a person into doing something, it makes sense to me that internal motivation is the better medium available. I had been contemplating this idea before, but after reading Drive, there is no doubt in my mind that a persons true motivation comes from within.

It makes sense that you would motivate yourself to do something as a result of interest rather than reward. The reason that I think this is true is that I think that there is more to life than waiting around for the next paycheck, or recognition for that matter. When I think about it, if people lived to enjoy their lives rather than worrying about superficial matters then the world would be more productive. Pink argues that this is true because we have an internal drive to be active rather than sit idly waiting for the world to pass us by. We all have share this. Even the monkeys that are presented to us in the introduction. They solved the puzzles for the simple joy of accomplishing the task, in a way this is self fulfillment, this is the same way that I have seen myself behaving. I do what I do because I enjoy it, not because I expect anyone to give me anything. I want to constantly push my limits to see what I can accomplish, however I don't do it for anyone's benefit but my own.

I agree that money is an important factor in life, but it's not the most important thing out there. I work during the summer, from six to five; the pay isn't that good, but I find myself working just to do something. Nothing feels better than coming back home from a long day at work to a cold shower, knowing that I have done something, the pay is a bonus. Honestly how many of you feel bored when you have nothing to do? Doing something should be it's own reward because it inhibits our life from becoming dull, like a knife that is never sharpened. Pink proposes that a person's salary should be able to meet that person's necessities and that that should be it, the employee must be left to enjoy their work. He even points out how companies that employ this tactic are developing at better rates than companies who remain stagnant in a changing world. When the world changes, different innovations arise to keep up with it, it seems that for the 21st century there won't be an innovation, simply more attention should be paid to something that we all have in ourselves, our internal motivation. Jobs are indeed changing, no longer are they boring, there are a lot of jobs out there that you can find pleasure in and it's these jobs that hold the key for prosperity because routine jobs can be condensed into a series of on and off signals which can be used to program machines to complete them. A robotic vacuum already exists, how long is it until a lawn mower can be programed to mow by itself? I don't think that it will take that long, but the one thing that no machine can replace is human ingenuity; the designers and innovators can't possibly be replaced because the brain is the best machine there is.

Pink makes an important point in voicing Mar Twain's opinion of turning play into work and vise-versa. Nobody likes to be told what to do (or at least i don't) and that is essentially what work is "you do this and I'll pay you" but what if we choose to find a job we appreciate and where we decide what we do?, then work would no longer seem like work and we regain control of our lives, something we all wish for. I myself wish to leave nothing to chance and cease whatever control I may. I don't want anybody trying to direct my life, standing over my shoulder, breathing down my neck, I hate it. It's the same way at any job, if your boss is constantly hassling you to do something, then you begin to resent him, but he's the one who pays you so you'll probably put up with what he throws your way hoping to get a raise, chances are you're probably miserable, meaning you won't do more than asked to. However, if your boss isn't a complete idiot, then you find yourself with more liberty and have viable options as to how to do something, and chose what method may please you, this environment allows for greater possibilities and that is why in the long run you will find yourself enjoying your job and maybe working overtime, not out of necessity, but by your own will. Truth is we all love going what we want whenever we want.
Throughout the beginning of the book Pink talks about our internal motivation then he reaches part two, where he talks about three elements for success in a work environment: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Autonomy has to do with control and the ability to direct our own lives, mastery deals with becoming proficient at something, and is it's own reward, while purpose is what drives us to accomplish anything we desire. Of these three I value mastery the most. Why? Because I want it, my purpose is to attain it. According to Pink mastery is reached by being involved in something, by immersing yourself so deep in something that nothing else matters, by reaching a state of flow, that's when greatness is achieved. It takes time, dedication, and work to reach mastery, it is a hunt that is never finished because it always eludes the pursuer; but like any good hunter will tell you, it's the thrill of the chase that matters.


  1. Elber,
    I just wanted to make a "quick" comment about "working just to do something". As I'm sure you've heard, I only make about $5 an hour when I work, and sometimes less. People ask how I can stand being payed so little, and the answer is exactly like you said. It's not about the money at all. I'm a teenager. I don't have to pay bills or worry about pay for gas. Even with my mom laid off and having to give every penny to her, I feel that when I go to work, it's still just to do something. Sitting at home reading and watching tv tends to make the day seem like it's just dragging along. This is something that has gone through my head so many times. Why is it that I enjoy work so much? Elber, you answered this. Another question that I always had was: Why wouldn't I think of work as a positive action. I think the answer to this is simply that work has its negative connotations. Every time I see my Mom or her boyfriend come back from work they are tired and not willing to do anything. I've seen so many shows where all people do is complain about their work. At school everyone dreads HOMEWORK! Work has the worst rep ever! It's almost worse then BP's rep.
    I'll comment more later.

  2. Are there different kinds of work? Work that we enjoy and get satisfaction out of, and work that is drudgery? Many jobs contain both, but we seek to do work that is satisfying, that makes us feel good. How much of that has to come from us then?

    I'm glad that you get deeper into the book, Elber, and I'm interested to hear what others have to say about stirring up the motivation in their lives.

    How do you see this applying to your last year at Chinquapin, and more particularly, your senior project?

  3. I just posted a blog on how this sort of motivation applied to Chinquapin last year. My senior project idea still needs to sharpen up, but it looks like I'm heading towards some type of software application possibly being run as an app on an iTouch :S. What is yours Elber?

  4. Hey everyone, I love the comments that have spawned out of the reading of Daniel Pink's DRIVE, and I hope they continue. I would really like to bring something up that is important to me when it comes to work. I got the idea from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his article about "Finding Flow." In all of the things/activities/tasks/chores that we do throughout our lives or even within a given school day at Chinquapin, we are incessantly in some kind of flow, where we feel somewhat removed from the future and past, and utterly engaged in the present moment. Mihaly describes flow as an activity that requires high skill while also presenting a high challenge. So, my question to you and the students of the Senior Class and younger students, is: what is your challenge this year? How will your specific challenge/project, which requires high skill, improve the quality of life here at Chinquapin? How will you receive feedback? Is there really any failure when it comes to this project?

  5. I totally agree with you Elber. Its weird how people are extrinsically motivated when it comes to rewards and even though they try hard to accomplish their goal, their performance declines rapidly. Due to the fact that people only think about the reward or what they'll receive next, but instead a rather intrinsic motivation would have a more positive effect and show that their performance goes up. Yet, both of these are similar. Just like Pink said, Type X and Type I people are totally different, but it doesn't mean that Type I people won't take a paycheck from a raise or receive a reward, but rather they don't think about it and do it because they are more concerned on how well they do their job. Basically they are their own motivation. While Type X people, like before, are concerned about their prize and live and do due to the fact that they know they'll receive a paycheck or some other reward. Their motivation is mundane objects, sort to say.