The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

Dan Pink on MotivationThis is the title of a cleverly animated talk by Dan Pink, which you can view below. But perhaps the truth he is espousing is not so surprising after all…. :)

Based on several research studies, Pink explores the factors that motivate us and our performance – and argues cogently that we should forget those traditional ideas that rewards and punishment can be good motivators for human behaviour.

As Pink points out, research has shown that when a task involves any kind of complexity or creativity – in other words for anything more than the most simple, straightforward, mechanical types of tasks – rewards simply don’t work. In fact, the higher the reward offered, the worse the performance!

Instead, people respond far better if they are offered:

  • autonomy – to make decisions themselves about what they’d like to do and with whom they’d like to work;
  • mastery – the opportunity to experience success as well as to improve and grow; and
  • purpose – a sense that they are contributing to something bigger and more significant than themselves, which is helping to make a difference in the world

Listening to Pink’s talk, we’re reminded this isn’t rocket science – and it’s not as surprising as the title of the video suggests …

After all, it’s a truth great teachers and leaders have always known!

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