From the Whiteboard: The Surprising Science of Motivation

Recently a co-worker showed me this fun “whiteboard animation” of a talk by Dan Pink. Watch it and you might be surprised by (and be able to relate to) what motivates us to do our work.

I’ve referenced a similar talk that Dan Pink did at TED before (you can also watch it below). What I like about this presentation is the fun drawings spark curiosity and playfulness throughout the talk.

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

Pink demonstrates that for work that requires creativity thinking, financial “carrot-and-stick” kinds of motivators don’t foster great work. While these motivators work well for mechanical, repetitive tasks, they actually lead to poorer performance in tasks that require some cognitive skill. He suggests 3 key motivators that foster great work are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

I’ve found this to be true in my own experience. For example, I spent the past six years working in an organization (which is lovingly referred to as Youth Without Any Money for a reason;) where we all were fueled largely by the motivation of Purpose. Despite the lack of financial motivators we put in lots of time, energy and passion to do great work. Purpose is indeed a powerful motivator.

One other powerful motivator that I would add to the above three (and I’m sure there are more) is Relationship. Who you’re working with matters just as much – and often amplifies – the Purpose behind your work. As we’ve reflected on our years of working in Denver with many people who became close friends, those friendships have over-shadowed a lot of the work itself. And relationships continue to fuel a lot of the things that we invest ourselves into now.

What motivates you to do great work?

(Below is Dan Pink’s TED talk on “the surprising science of motivation”).

4 responses to “From the Whiteboard: The Surprising Science of Motivation”

  1. Brent, great thoughts! Agreed, relationship and partnership with those good friends really does motivate me. I am personally motivated by the hope of mastering a skill. I am also motivated by others who are highly motivated. Hope all is good man!!

  2. That whiteboard visual harmonization of the talk was mesmerizing and awesome! Thanks for another great recommendation.

  3. […] I just finished reading Dan Pink’s Drive, in which Pink explains why traditional carrot-and-stick motivators are out-dated and need to be replaced by the intrinsic motivators of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. (For the abbreviated version of the book, watch Pink’s TED talk, which I’ve mentioned before). […]

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