Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement


I came across Daniel pink for the first time when I asked my boss about books worth reading in business development. I had a number of books I was interested in but he suggested to read this book, he even told me that he bought around 7 copies of the book for the company library. Reading this book turned to be one of the most enjoyable experiences I ever had in self-developement since it described perfectly how I used to motivate myself in order to become a better software developer.

You probably heard about the two famous personality types that Carl Jung discovered long time ago, which are Introverts(I) and Extroverts (E). Being an Introvert myself, and I’m planning to write a blog about it, it turns that in this world of Extroverts, where the dominant approach of motivation is the carrot and the stick (If you do this then you will be rewarded) is no longer considered an efficient approach and needs reconsideration. Here it comes what Pink called Motivation 3.0, where Internal motivation is considered the main driver for modern motivation.

Here is a link to Daniel Pink Ted Talk on the Puzzle of motivation:

and this is another link to RSAAnimate summarizing the ideas discussed in this book:

This is my review for the book written back on March 23th, 2013.


I was surprised at the beginning when I found that a lot of things that I used to motivate myself with was a common thing between what is called Type I behavior and that really helped me in understanding myself better.

“Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us” is not only a book on how to motivate us, its main concern is to understand motivation and how it developed throughout the years until we reach the 21st century. Pink describes the motivation as an operating system that consists of a number of rules, assumptions on how the world work and how the humans behave. Starting from Motivation 1.0, survival was the main drive for human existing and motivation. Later in Motivation 2.0, in the 20th century, monetary or the stick and carrot rule directed and driven motivation. By studying these assumptions by a number of researchers starting with Harry Harlow and Edward Deci, who conducted a numerous number of experiments to understand how this behavior of stick and carrot motivates people, they found that there is a huge gap between what the science knows and how the business work.

The common experiments between a different number of researchers was to have a three set of work groups, the first group (A) will be asked to do a certain task and promised to receive a reward at the end if they did it right. The second group (B) was promised nothing but after the end of the task they were given a reward for doing this right and the third group (C) was promised nothing and didn’t receive a reward at the end. The surprising result of these experiments was after repeating such experiments many times; those in group A started to take more time in completing these tasks and became less interested in doing them. Those in group B and C maintain the same enthusiasm and motivation towards the completion of these tasks.

These researchers concluded that motivation 2.0, where the stick and carrot was the main motivators for these groups and which this behavior was described as “If Then: If you completed this task, then you will be rewarded”, was not the main factor in motivating these people and in sometimes this kind of motivation has a bad effect on the long run and only worked for short term tasks. Moreover, this type of motivation failed to explain why in the 21st century there were a lot of people who engaged in building services and products to serve the community for free. Such as open source products, Wikipedia and alike, and non profit and charity organizations where money was not the drive behind such behavior, instead there is a third drive that lead these behaviors which was called in Motivation 3.0 the intrinsic motivation.

In this book, Pink suggested an upgrade to this operating system to motivation 3.0 and in which he introduced two types of behavior:

– Type X, in which individuals relies on external factors for motivation such as If, then rewards and he proved that this behavior is no longer a main factor for motivation in the 21st century and will results in less creativity and hindrances for the internal motivation people have. Nonetheless, this kind of motivation is still working for routine tasks in which we know that there is no fun in doing them and we acknowledge that and suggest rewards for completing such tasks.

– Type I, in which individuals are driven by intrinsic motivation in which the satisfaction is fulfilled by doing the task itself rather than being rewarded for doing it. This kind of motivation turned to be the main factor for motivating people who are doing more cognitive tasks that requires no routine tasks and people will be more engaged in doing these tasks. The kind of rewards can be in the form of “now that: since now you done right, then I will reward you by..” in which this reward is not necessary in terms of monetary but a feedback or acknowledgement is enough for people in this type and we will end in doing the task for the joy of doing it rather than for the reward that accompany it.

Pink argued that in order to foster Type I for motivation and since this behavior is not inherited by birth we have mainly three main factors:

1. Autonomy: The desire to direct our own lives by doing the thing we like to do, the way we do it and with whom we want to do it with.

2. Mastery: Our desire to excell in these things we like to do putting in mind that perfection is never reached but still has the joy to reach for that mastery.

3. Purpose: When we set our own goals we will reach a point where we are no longer the center of the world and we will work for bigger purposes and goals to help and serve the community.

In summary, what Pink tries to say here is that in the world of Motivation 3.0, we should shift our focus from building motivation based on punishment and reward theory into investing more in individuals in order to allow them to direct their own motivations which will results in more creativity, autonomy and end with doing good for something larger than ourselves.

One of my favorite quotes in this book: “Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.”


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