“Drive” Quotes

I recently finished reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. I consider this a comedy book since motivation and self-direction are so crucial to comedy. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As always, if you like the quotes, please buy the whole book here.

Drive Cover“When money is used as an external reward for some activity, the subjects lose intrinsic interest for the activity,” Deci wrote. Rewards can deliver a short-term boost – just as a jolt of caffeine can keep you cranking for a few more hours. But the effect wears off – and, worse, can reduce a person’s longer-term motivation to continue the project.” (8)

“Societies also have operating systems. The laws, social customs, and economic arrangements that we encounter each day sit atop a lawyer of instructions, protocols, and suppositions about how the world works. And much of our societal operating system consists of a set of assumptions about human behavior.” (16)

“Routine, not-so-interesting jobs require direction; nonroutine, more interesting work depends on self-direction.” (30)

“The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.” (33)

“When children didn’t expect a reward, receiving one had little impact on their intrinsic motivation. Only contingent rewards – if you do this, then you’ll get that – had the negative effect.” (36)

“When institutions – families, schools, businesses, and athletic teams, for example – focus on the short-term and opt for controlling people’s behavior,” they do considerable long-term damage.” (37)

“Try to encourage a kid to learn math by paying her for each workbook page she completes – and she’ll almost certainly become more diligent in the short term and lose interest in math in the long term.” (37)

“In eight of the nine tasks we examined across the three experiments, higher incentives led to worse performance.” (39)

“Another study of artists over a longer period shows that the concern for outside rewards might actually hinder eventual success.” (43)

“Those artists who pursued their painting and sculpture more for the pleasure of the activity itself than for extrinsic rewards have produced art that has been socially recognized as superior.” (44)

“Extrinsic rewards can be effective for algorithmic tasks – those that depend on following an existing formula to its logical conclusion.” (44)

“Several researchers have found that companies that spend the most time offering guidance on quarterly earnings deliver significantly lower long-term growth rates than companies that offer guidance less frequently.” (56)

“In environments where extrinsic rewards are most salient, many people work only to the point that triggers the reward – and no further. So if the students get a prize for reading three books, many won’t pick up a fourth, let alone embark on a lifetime of reading.” (56)

“For routine tasks, which aren’t very interesting and don’t demand much creative thinking, rewards can provide a small motivational booster shot without the harmful side effects.” (60)

“The best way to avoid the seven deadly flaws of extrinsic motivators is to avoid them altogether or to downplay them significantly and instead emphasize the elements of deeper motivation – autonomy, mastery, and purpose.” (62)

“Your best approach is to have already establish the conditions of a genuinely motivating environment. The baseline rewards must be sufficient. That is, the team’s basic compensation must be adequate and fair – particularly compared with people doing similar work for similar organizations. Your nonprofit must be a congenial place to work. And the people on your team must have autonomy, they must have ample opportunity to pursue mastery, and their daily duties must relate to a larger purpose. If these elements are in place, the best strategy is to provide as sense of urgency and significance – and then get out of the talent’s way.” (64)

“Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete.” (64)

“Holding out a prize at the beginning of a project – and offering it as a contingency – will inevitably focus people’s attention on obtaining the reward rather than on attacking the problem. But introducing the subject of rewards after the job is done is less risky.” (64)

“The more feedback focuses on specifics (“great use of color”) – and the more the praise is about effort and strategy rather than about achieving a particular outcome – the more effective it can be.” (66)

“SDT begins with a notion of universal human needs. It argues that we have three innate psychological needs – competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When those needs are satisfied, we’re motivated, productive, and happy. When they’re thwarted, our motivation, productivity, and happiness plummet.” (70)

“For Type X’s, the main motivator is external rewards; any deeper satisfaction is welcome, but secondary. For Type I’s, the main motivator is the freedom, challenge, and purpose of the undertaking itself; any other gains are welcome, but mainly as a bonus.” (76)

“Type I’s almost always outperform Type X’s in the long run. Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than their reward-seeking counterparts. Alas, that’s not always true in the short term. An intense focus on extrinsic rewards can indeed deliver fast results. The trouble is, this approach is difficult to sustain. And it doesn’t assist in mastery – which is the source of achievement over the long haul. The most successful people, the evidence shows, often aren’t directly pursuing conventional notions of success. They’re working hard and persisting through difficulties because of their internal desire to control their lives, learn about their world, and accomplish something that endures.” (77)

“Type I behavior does not disdain money or recognition. Both Type X’s and Type I’s care about money. If an employee’s compensation doesn’t hit the baseline that I described – if her organization doesn’t pay her an adequate amount, or if her pay isn’t equitable compared to others doing similar work – that person’s motivation will crater, regardless of whether she leans toward X or toward I.” (77)

“One reason fair and adequate pay is so essential is that it takes people’s focus off money, which allows them to concentrate on the work itself.” (77)

“Management didn’t emanate from nature. It wasn’t handed to us from God. It’s something that somebody invented. It is, as the strategy guru Gary Hamel has observed, a technology – and an 1850s technology at that. Now look around your office or home. How many nineteenth-century technologies are you still using?” (86)

“Have you ever seen a six-month-old or a three-year-old who’s not curious and self-directed? I haven’t. That’s how we are out of the box. If, at age fourteen or forty-three, we’re passive and inert, that’s not because it’s our nature. It’s because something flipped our default setting.” (87)

“The businesses that offered autonomy grew at four times the rate of the control-oriented firms and had one-third the turnover.”

“This era doesn’t call for better management. It calls for a renaissance of self-direction.” (90)

“We’ve always taken the position that money is only something you can lose on,” Cannon-Brookes told me. “If you don’t pay enough, you can lose people. But beyond that, money is not a motivator. What matters are these other features.” (91)

“At the makers of the GORE-TEX fabric and another example of Motivation 3.0 in action, anybody who wants to rise in the ranks and lead a team must assemble people willing to work with her.” (103)

“You need not see what someone is doing
to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes:
a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,
a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression, forgetting
themselves in a function.

How beautiful it is,
that eye-on-the-object look.

-W.H. Auden” (107)

“In flow, goals are clear. You have to reach the top of the mountain, hit the ball across the net, or mold the clay just right. Feedback is immediate.” (113)

“In flow, people lived so deeply in the moment, and felt so utterly in control, that their sense of time, place, and even self melted away.” (113)

“With a learning goal, students don’t have to feel that they’re already good at something in order to hang in and keep trying. After all, their goal is to learn, not to prove they’re smart.” (120)

“The two self-theories take very different views of effort. To incremental theorists, exertion is positive. Since incremental theorists believe that ability is malleable, they see working harder as a way to get better. By contrast, says Dweck, “the entity theory… is a system that requires a diet of easy successes.” In this schema, if you have to work hard, it means you’re not very good. People therefore choose easy targets that, when hit, affirm their existing abilities but do little to expand them.” (120)

“Try to pick a profession in which you enjoy even the most mundane, tedious parts. Then you will always be happy. – Will Shortz” (122)

“Mastery hurts. Sometimes – many times – it’s not much fun.” (122)

“Being a professional,” Julius Erving once said, “is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.” (123)

“This is the nature of mastery: Mastery is an asymptote. You can approach it. You can home in on it. You can get really, really, really close to it. But like Cezanne, you can never touch it. Mastery is impossible to realize fully. Great athletes often say that they can – that they must – become better. They say it when they’re amateurs. They say it after their best outing or at the end of their finest season. They’re pursuing mastery. That’s well-known. What’s less well-known is that they understand that they’ll never get it. It will always hover beyond their grasp.” (125)

“The joy is in the pursuit more than the realization. In the end, mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.” (125)

“Forty-eight hours without flow plunged people into a state eerily similar to a serious psychiatric disorder.” (127)

“The single greatest motivator is “making progress in one’s work.” The days that people make progress are the days they feel most motivated and engaged.” (127)

“Business leaders, Gary Hamel says, “must find ways to infuse mundane business activities with deeper, soul-stirring ideals, such as honor, truth, love, justice, and beauty.” Humanize what people say and you may well humanize what they do.” (137)

“It’s often difficult to do something exceptionally well if we don’t know the reasons we’re doing it in the first place.” (138)

“There are certain things that if you value and if you attain them, you’re worse off as aresult of it, not better off.” (142)

“If people chase profit goals, reach those goals, and still don’t feel any better about their lives, one response is to increase the size and scope of the goals – to seek more money or greater outside validation. And that can “drive them down a road of further unhappiness thinking it’s the road to happiness,” Ryan said.” (143)

“One way to orient your life toward greater purpose is to think about your sentence.” (155)

“You spend a lot more time grinding through tough tasks than you do basking in applause.” (155)

“At the end of each day, ask yourself whether you were better today than you were yesterday. Did you do more? Did you do it well?” (155)

“Reminding yourself that you don’t need to be a master by day three is the best way of ensuring you will be one by day three thousand.” (156)

“Clay Shirky argues that when we design systems that assume bad faith from the participants, and whose main purpose is to guard against nasty behavior, we often foster the very behavior we’re trying to deter. People will push and push the limits of formal rules, search of every available loophole, and look for ways to game the system when defenders aren’t watching. By contrast, a web of rules that assumes good faith – as most autonomy-centered policies do – can actually encourage good behavior.” (173)

“If you think people in your organization are predisposed to rip you off, maybe the solution isn’t to build a tighter, more punitive set of rules. Maybe the answer is to hire new people.” (173)

“Paying great people a little more than the market demands, Akerlof and Yellen found, could attract better talent, reduce turnover, and boost productivity and morale. Higher wages could actually reduce a company’s costs.” (180)

If you liked the quotes, please buy the whole book here.

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