Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

“If you want people to perform better, you reward them, right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show. Incentivize them. … But that’s not happening here. You’ve got an incentive designed to sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity, and it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity.” -Daniel H. Pink

As part of my School Director Fellowship I am working through the following books. (Alaina, notice something in the picture?!)photo (2)

I’ve read many of these over the years, but like I tell my students, there is power in re-reading books. We always find something new, and especially reading them with the lens of knowing I am going to be leading a school this fall, I’m getting a lot out of them. I’m lucky to be in a position where I can read at work right now, and I’ve been listening to books on tape (when I’m not listening to Freakanomics or This American Life) during my commute.

Apart from one of the books that was a little too “I’m saving the world, I’m so great” and “I never spend time on myself, 100% of my time is devoted to the success of my students,” I’ve really enjoyed being reminded that team beats individual, leadership should be humble, and greatness is built. From the entire collection, the book that has been most inspirational is Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. It was like nothing I ever read at Columbia or through other leadership programs. We all know intrinsic motivation is better than extrinsic, but I was amazed to discover that incentives really do block creativity. It was fascinating to read and think about how I will motivate and inspire students at Equitas Academy #3. We’re not going to rely on systems like paychecks and class points to excite students about learning. This is all great in theory, now I need to figure out how to put it into practice and create a school culture that praises effort and creativity vs. compliance.

A few quotes that stood out to me:

“Goals may cause systematic problems for organizations due to narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk taking, decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic motivation. Use care when applying goals in your organization.”
― Daniel H. PinkDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

“As Carol Dweck says, “Effort is one of the things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it. It would be an impoverished existence if you were not willing to value things and commit yourself to working toward them.”
― Daniel H. PinkDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

“When the reward is the activity itself–deepening learning, delighting customers, doing one’s best–there are no shortcuts.”
― Daniel H. PinkDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Take 18 minutes to watch the following TED talk. Seriously, just do it. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Another reason I love Daniel H. Pink…he decided to put a runner on the cover of his book, even though the book is NOT about running. In his book he talks about how runners exemplify Type 1 (a life built around intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators) behavior. We run for a greater purpose, testing our limits and attempting to seek mastery while knowing there is always room for growth.

Click on the photo:Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 11.21.08 AMI’ll be back tomorrow with a long run update!

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One thought on “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

  1. HI Cristina, the following books were mentioned at the ELA Principals’ Academy session yesterday, facilitated by two great local principals: Mindset, Drive, Cultivating Leadership in Schools, Education and Crisis of Public Values, Leadership is an Art, and Multi Dimensional Assessment.

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