Best Books Daniel H. Pink | Drive. The surprising truth about what motivates us

“I’m convinced that our basic nature is to be curious and self-directed.”

We deal with the topic of motivation every day:

  • When we encounter the first obstacle each morning when we get out of bed.
  • During a never-ending discussion when doing homework with the children.
  • When trying to find our drive for the evening volleyball practice.

It's really nice to find a book related to the many sides of life. Drive. The surprising truth about what motivates us is such a book.

What is it about? You probably can already guess: motivation.

For us, this is not only an important topic for our private lives, but also professionally. On the one hand, we want to maintain our own high motivation at SAPERED, and, on the other, we want to and need to motivate people to constantly develop. Drive was thus on our reading list.

What's it all about?

We live in a highly complex society in which the bulk of our work is creative, empathetic and not based on routine. The leadership practices applied since the first industrial revolution no longer work. On the contrary, they are counterproductive. So much regarding history.

To illustrate this, Pink distinguishes between two different types of behaviour at the beginning of the book: Type X and Type I. Type X is predominantly extrinsically motivated (x comes from extrinsically) and therefore focuses more on the extrinsic reward for the result of their work. Type I, on the other hand, is intrinsically motivated and draws its energy mainly from the work itself. Pink bases his work on several studies that show clear disadvantages of extrinsically motivated "if you do A, then you will get B" behaviour: it can reduce intrinsic motivation and performance, suppress creativity, diminish good behaviour, promote short-term thinking, short-cuts, cheating and lead to "addiction" (with extrinsic motivation, it's like with drugs: I have to constantly increase the dose to achieve the same kick). Extrinsic motivation should therefore be used wisely and only in hand-picked situations.

Most companies, but also institutions such as schools and universities, operate according to a system that promotes extrinsically motivated behaviour. That is why Pink advocates for the creation of a new "operating system" that supports and promotes type I behaviour. Because intrinsically motivated people are not only more productive, they are usually also more satisfied, healthier and more mentally balanced.

According to Pink, the key to intrinsic motivation lies in three elements: autonomy, competence and a feeling of belonging belonging through purpose. It is a fundamental human need to determine, learn and create new things about our (work)life; to improve ourselves and the world. Creating an environment that addresses and satisfies these three needs is now the task. For this purpose, Drive gives inspiration with many examples of companies that have successfully taken on this mission.


What does this mean for us?

For us at SAPERED, it is important to create a culture in which we can flourish, in which all employees can develop and actively shape our business. This is an ongoing task and challenge, about which we have reported in this blog article.

And, of course, the topic of motivation drives us when we develop training courses: How do we link the personal development of the individual with the company's goals, create space for creativity and encourage learners to use it?

We have learned from Daniel H. Pink that the learning environment and culture in companies play a decisive role in this regard. We must create a mindset, in which:

  • lifelong learning is part of the corporate culture,
  • further development is an everyday task
  • and employees have a say in what they want to learn, when and how they want to learn it.

Daniel H. Pink cites numerous studies in his book that support his theory. At the same time, he shows that the business world often has a completely different picture of motivation. There is often the conviction that motivation can be bought by extrinsic means, that people must function according to patterns and that purpose can be equated with economic success. We share Pink's opinion: we think this view no longer fits in modern society and work style. We want to change this.

Even if the parents among us might feel embarrassed reading some parts of Drive ("If you don't clean up your room, you won't be watching YouTube today!"), the book is very easy to read and gives many examples of how to create a motivating environment both professionally and privately. And we like that. That is why we strongly recommend that you read it!


Main takeaways

  1. Society and the world of work are massively changing, and our understanding of leadership urgently needs to follow suit.
  2. The keys to motivation: autonomy, competence and belonging through purpose.
  3. Intrinsic motivation always beats extrinsic motivation.