Sometimes you can’t get that thing you want by pursuing it directly.
You might want C, but instead of going after C directly, you’d be better off pursuing A, which will automatically lead to B, then C.
The problem is that the connection between A, B and C isn’t always intuitive, so we waste our energy on the wrong thing.
I watched a documentary recently about animal migration in the Serengeti. The Ndutu lion pride lives on the plains, where the wildebeest and zebra (ie, lion food) visit annually. But they only come after the rains do, because the rains cause the rich grasses (ie, wildebeest and zebra food) to grow.
So if you’re a lion, being an excellent hunter (the thing lions do best) won’t help you fill your belly.
If you’re a lion, better to start by watering the grass.
This is why, if you want to boost workplace productivity (C), in Dan Pink’s opinion, provide autonomy (A) and purpose (B).
And if you want to run faster (C), you need to run slower (A).
And why, if you want your kid to stop whining about wearing mittens (C), you’re better settling their hunger (A) first.
What is it you want, and what do you need to start pursuing to make that happen? The two might not be the same thing.