Sketchplanations

Explaining one thing a week in a sketch

What drives us: autonomy, mastery, purpose

In Dan Pink’s book Drive, he looks at scientific studies showing that the all too common approach to motivating people involving rewards and punishments, or the carrot and stick approach, ultimately doesn’t help motivate people for the tasks and work we have to do today.

Instead, we do our best work when driven by intrinsic motivation — motivation from inside us, rather than imposed externally like rewards or punishments. And the 3 facets he highlights that help intrinsic motivation are:

  • Autonomy: being in control and able to guide both what we do and how we do it
  • Mastery: our desire to continually be improving and learning and bettering ourselves
  • Purpose: working towards something we think is worthwhile. Having a North star to aim for and a reason it’s worth doing what we’re doing.

I find it a useful framework to think through whenever I’m not feeling motivated, or when I want to help make sure the people I’m working with are motivated.

Also see: flow at work, Goldilocks tasks, the zone of proximal development, on parenting.

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