Drive. The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

“We have an innate need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”  Daniel H. Pink

This fantastic read is about intrinsic motivation. Most humans are intrinsically motivated, meaning money does not motivate them. However, please be assured; everyone wants to be paid fairly.

Once fair pay has been addressed, most feel rewarded by something far more significant. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, a purpose, and belong to a company they believe has the same values. They want to see alignment with their purpose and the company’s values. In addition, they want to have the autonomy to pave their own success story.

We all have a purpose; a not-so-secret ingredient to engagement is purpose, autonomy, and mastery.

Addressing people’s intrinsic motivation is a low-hanging fruit for all organizations. If attrition is an issue, an easy way to slow it down is to co-create intrinsic motivation with employees. People don’t move jobs for pay (the pay makes it easier to move) but for the endless quest to belong to something great.

Daniel Pink simplifies why carrots and sticks, also known as bonuses or extra pay for hard work, have negative impacts. Studies show that the carrot and stick approach turns passion into work and creates tunnel vision. An alternative that reaps the rewards is to pay people fairly and at the market, and to take pay as a motivator off the table. Instead, he suggests focusing on every human’s three psychological needs: purpose, autonomy, and mastery.


We perform at very high levels when we do so in service of some greater objective and desire. Purpose provides energy to our ongoing evolution that addresses our innate need to do something beyond ourselves. We all need a purpose to show up every day, to have a reason to be our best selves.


Autonomy is cited as one of three basic human needs. Autonomy means that we act with choice, which means we can work with autonomy and be interdependent. Humans, at our core, are curious and self-directed. Therefore, autonomy is an easy path to engagement for employees.


Mastery is the desire to get better and better at something that matters. When we become skilled and proficient in our purpose, we find flow. In flow, our goals are clear; our work is accomplished, challenging, and rewarding. We end our days content, knowing our contributions made a difference to everyone in a meaningful way.

How extraordinary to consider the impact of these psychological needs on human happiness. It is easy to consider further the ramifications this could have on a company’s culture and the day-to-day execution of operations in the workplace.

Linda Lucas

Linda Lucas

Linda Lucas brings 25+ years of experience in finance, operations, and strategy to the table. Her expertise lies in coaching, mentoring, and facilitating programs that empower and increase collaboration.

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