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5.0 out of 5 stars Explains my childhood and illuminates the future, 18 Feb 2013
This review is from: (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us) By Daniel H. Pink (Author) Paperback on (Jan , 2011) (Paperback)
What motivates humans in the workplace and elsewhere? In its pursuit to shed light on this question, this book captured my attention from the start. The book digs into how our understanding of 'motivation' has evolved from a scientific and business point of view, particularly over the last century. In essence, Mr. Pink claims that the 'carrot or stick' approach to motivation is outdated, and that society would benefit from open collaboration that (at least occasionally) puts employees at the wheel, rather than keeping them in the back seat.

I relate to Mr. Pink's research in a personal way. It helped me to understand the extent to which external rewards may help or hinder someone's productivity, as well as affect the reaches of their imagination, ambition and willingness to discover. When I was a kid, I grew up in America and quickly learned how to 'study to the test'. We had plenty of multiple-choice exams, and it became easy to study with this end in mind: I would load up on memorisation over the 48 hours before the exam, and once it finished I would release it in a proverbial brain dump, if you will. As a result, I tended to pursue only those subjects which came naturally and where excelling was extremely likely. I distanced myself from subjects in which I was just average, or that rocked my comfort zone. My parents and teachers praised me for doing well, but I grew used to the praise and developed a reliance upon it in order to validate a sense of achievement. The more this external reward system continued, the more recognition I sought and the shorter this 'natural high' lasted, be it from a gold star or a $100 scholarship.

Mr. Pink gets to the heart of what was going on in my school-aged mind: If you use 'if-then' scenarios to reward people, particularly when they produce the result you desire, or if you plant specific objectives along their path rather than let them define and experience their own journey towards mastery, then:

-- the less likely they are to tap into creative solutions, and
-- the more likely they are to narrow their scope of resource and increase the amount of time it takes to problem-solve.

Mr. Pink writes about how the journey towards mastery is the truest motivator, especially when you are working on pursuits of passion. Indeed, 'Drive' helped me to put into context the journey I have undertaken. In the last two years, I have switched industries (from written media to technology-based media). It hasn't been easy. The reason for this is largely because I am moving away from a 'soft' field and now tapping into science- and math-based fields. These areas didn't come easy to me as a child, and back then were best left avoided. But I am now discovering that in the larger picture, outside of a short-term deadline or a fleeting course mark, the pleasure of discovering and innovating means more to me than sticking with something safe, easy... and boring, to put it plainly!

This process of self-discovery resonates with the themes of Mr. Pink's book, which aim to show businesses the fantastic potential of letting employees define their environments. He uses many examples (from Google's Gmail, to 3G Post-It notes) to show how a culture of trust can promote independence, creativity and collaboration -- and ultimately drive innovation.
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