Drive by Daniel Pink- Motivation Without Carrots and Sticks

I had the privilege of interviewing Daniel Pink, the author of Drive, recently. He had just returned the day before from Japan, where he was assisting with the release of his book in the Land of the Rising Sun. Drive is doing phenomenal both in the States and overseas.

It’s always fun for me to interview people of Pink’s caliber. I read their books and absorb knowledge as best I can in that manner, but it gives me an inside edge into understanding the material when I can actually talk to them and ask questions about the concepts or the research involved.

Drive is about what motivates us and the conclusions of the research are astounding. I urge you to read the book. It is doubly important if you in any capacity lead other people. You could be a boss, a supervisor, pastor, parent, or any combination of those. You need to know what will motivate your people and what truly motivates you.

Here’s the gist of our interview…

How have you enjoyed being a Free Agent since you gave up having a regular job?

I think I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been 13 years and it’s hard to imagine going back and getting a real job unless I was just desperate. Like anything, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good. And it certainly beats the alternative.

Oh yeah, definitely. I’m a lifelong free agent myself even though at times I’ve had to go back a get regular job here and there.

As a free agent what would you describe as your occupation?

I’m a writer.

Is Drive a sequel to Free Agent Nation, as far as moving free agency into the corporations or have you ever thought of it like that?

I’ve never have thought of it like that, but that’s really a pretty good way to put it. For the book Free Agent Nation I went around the country and interviewed hundreds of people who had chosen to work for themselves or had to work for themselves. One of the things that came out of those interviews was that this desire to work on one’s own, to work in this way was powered by a certain set of values. It turns out that those values have a lot in common with what science shows us about enduring motivation. People I talked to about Free Agent Nation not surprisingly talked about freedom, which is sort of like autonomy. They talked about a meaning which is very much like purpose. And they also talked about accountability and growth and making a contribution which is very much like mastery. So in some ways the people I was interviewing for Free Agent Nation were embodying a lot of what the science of motivation tells us provides motivation for the long haul.

What would you say is your primary motivation?

A few things, I mean, it’s sort of mixed. It’s sort of the inward and the outward. The inward is just to satisfy my own curiosity and to try to get a little better at what I do. The outward is just to just try to make some kind of very small contribution to the world.

Here is sort of a side track question. Why did you never practice law?

Oh, it’s boring. I mean once I realized what lawyers actually did, I said there is no way I’m doing this. I mean I would go crazy. I think we have a kind of mythological notion of, or false notion of, what lawyers actually do from watching TV and stuff. Being a lawyer, at least to me would not be very interesting, as a matter of fact, I would find it somewhat deadening.

As far as the book A Whole New Mind, are you left-handed or right-handed?

I’m actually right handed and, and I’m always curious to talk to left-handers like you because obviously you show much more activation in the left hemisphere. But I’m right-handed and the truth is I’m actually a fairly left brain kind of guy. I’m a very logical, linear, straight forward, data oriented kind of guy. The idea behind The Whole New Mind, if you actually take that left brain look at the facts and the evidence and the data of what’s really going on out there, it seems pretty clear that the scales are tilting in the favor of these right brain abilities. People like me have a lot of catching up to do.

What would you say to leaders who are already motivated, but are frustrated dealing with different motivations around them as far as church, work, family?

I guess the biggest lesson would be two-fold. Somewhat similar to what I said before, you need to look inward and look outward to think about yourself and think about what motivates you? Chances are it’s not all that different for somebody else. I think a lot of times when people aren’t motivated they lack a sense of why they’re doing what they’re doing. The leaders can provide a sense of purpose, with a sense of context; provide the why along with the how and the what. Here’s how you do it and here is what you’re supposed to do. I think they fall down or fall short sometimes on the why in all of those places- inside the home, or school, or church, or the workplace. I think people are a little bit adrift and are wondering why their doing what they’re doing. Effective leaders who can answer that why question can be very effective.

My wife and I have two boys and we’re planning on homeschooling. We’re looking at the unschooling movement right now as far as whether we want to go totally over to that or not, but we’re planning on using your book to help do our curriculum. That way if we can motivate our two young boys really early we’ll get them ahead in life.

That’s great! I know they’re already motivated now. They’re curious. They’re active. In many ways a lot of kids start out sort of motivation 3.0 and then school pounds them into being motivation 2.0. So if you try not to do any harm you’ll be doing a world of good.


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