Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Drive discussion

How good are we at identifying what we enjoy?

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message 1: by Tucker (new) - added it

Tucker After re-reading Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, I was caught by this passage: "...dissonance theory demonstrated that our behavior transcends the effects of rewards and punishments and often contradicts them. For example, Elliot [Aronson, co-author] predicted that if people go through a great deal of pain, discomfort, effort, or embarrassment to get something, they will be happier with that 'something' than if it came to them easily." (p. 15) The reason is that they want to self-justify the effort they put in, so they convince themselves that the outcome must have been worth the effort.

This seems to throw a wrench in the idea that rewards and punishments (what Pink in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us calls Motivation 2.0) work in a simple manner and also in the assumption that we already know what we love to do (what Pink calls Motivation 3.0). Rewards and punishments sometimes backfire for reasons other than Pink identified. Pink said they turn previously enjoyable tasks into drudgery. But they also are woven into our narrative of why we have made certain choices--a narrative that isn't always accurate and tends to be inflected by whatever makes us look good to ourselves. We frequently misremember why we behaved the way we did.

Ryan Agrimson I'm not sure how this throws a wrench in the topics Pink depicts in his book. The whole book leans on the idea that rewards and punishments aren't good motivators. The initiation is what Pink is describing. What you are describing is the effects of our actions and how we feel afterwards as a result of the process.
I feel you are trying to compare apples to oranges.

message 3: by Tucker (new) - added it

Tucker You may be right; it may be apples to oranges when comparing motivation at the beginning of the process to the rationalization at the end of the process.

Let me think about what I might have meant when I wrote this a few months ago!

I think I was assuming that the decision/action processes by which we arrive at opinions about what we like to do are iterative. That is, our decisions and opinions aren't in a vacuum, but are related to past life experience. In that sense, there's no pure beginning or end, because you can't isolate one decision from all the others.

An example related to management theory:

Suppose a girl's parents want her to become a doctor, but she insists she's an artist. Against their protests, she goes to art school where she self-justifies majoring in advertising as a reasonable way for an artist to make money. As a young woman, she lands some marketing internships where she's treated poorly but she feels she needs to slog through them. Eventually she's a career professional in marketing. She doesn't really love it, but she's spent her life telling herself that she loves it. Otherwise she wouldn't have worked so hard for it. It's woven into her identity and she's made sacrifices for it since she was a teenager.

When one first meets this person, one might label her a "Type I" personality according to Pink's categorization, meaning she finds her work intrinsically motivating. She might even label herself that. But someone who can really dig down, like a good therapist, might help her discover that she's got "Type X" in there too, extrinsic motivation. She's in marketing partly for the rewards it brings: salary, prestige, getting her parents off her back.

On any given task in the marketing department, it would be difficult for her manager to know whether she would do best with the carrot-and-stick approach of extrinsic motivation, or the "do what you love, then celebrate" approach of intrinsic motivation. Our sense of what we love to do can be clouded. Past rewards and punishments are one thing that clouds our vision.

Brandon Murphy Tucker wrote: "You may be right; it may be apples to oranges when comparing motivation at the beginning of the process to the rationalization at the end of the process.

Let me think about what I might have meant..."


message 5: by Savttester (new) - added it

Savttester !

message 6: by Gauri (new)

Gauri Some times most of the above as discussed by various individuals - gets colored by our belief system. As such we find such different approaches very well discussed in the following :

Excerpts :

What is the human belief system?

The human belief system is nothing more than our cumulative memories (built on top of each other) and our experiences assimilated from birth. A very critical point: we are not born with a belief system. At the time of our birth, the hard drive (storage area or our memories) is empty. We only have the capacity to have (store) our individual belief system: we do not have it yet.

The belief system is influenced from birth in some kind of chronological order (from the Greek word chrons – meaning time, some kind of time order) by parents, siblings, family and friends, people we interact with, peers, teachers, society and the environment. And as a consequence of that, all these things individually and collectively influence the self.

And how or why, does belief system matter in the area of self- management. Our belief system sometimes leads us to believe that we have a perfect picture of how we want the world to behave towards us. Why? Because of who, we are and what we believe. After all it is my belief. This in turn sometimes leads to conflicts, based entirely on different individual having different belief system.

To better understand this concept, let me share with you some of the fundamental realities present in our world today, and how it colors our belief system. Let us evaluate the following facts of our life:

• In this world, we have a large number of people who believe eating beef is wrong.
• There are similarly a great amount of people who believe eating pork is a sin punishable by law.
• Yet another group of people enjoy eating both.

Based on the above, let us re-evaluate the belief system in this context: For each group listed above - their belief system leads them to believe that they have a perfect picture of how the world should behave towards them.

Unfortunately there is only one tiny little problem with this, we have not negotiated with the world or others to support something which may be contradictory to what they believe.

To take this subject a notch higher, there are people who believe and live by selfless acts, while others do not believe in it and say that everything we do is self-serving. Some people do not believe in the definitions of altruism, philanthropy, or acts of terrorism. They are just social interpretation of an act that is socially acceptable and culturally relevant. Which means in certain cultures and situations what may look like altruism, philanthropy, terrorism could be labelled differently in other cultures. And each of these things comes from the belief system of the person at the receiving end of such an act.

For example, in the western civilisation, one of the greatest things that you could do is giving up your life for another person. But in another culture, the person whose life you saved by sacrificing your own life may say, “Now you have interfered with my karma. I was ready to die. If you are going to die, do it on your own time. Don’t die for me.” Same is applicable to many other more intense and emotionally disturbing personal beliefs which we may or may not have in common with our immediate circle of friends, co-workers, associates etc.

Note: There is no right or wrong belief system.

We cannot fault someone else’s belief just as we do not give them permission to fault our belief system. We may accept it or not, but they are equally valid.

The following case study illustrates how different belief systems can trigger different emotional responses from different individuals:

Case Study B :

While working in the kitchen, the lady of the house notices a protruding nail and decides to fix it by hammering it in. She did not want to disturb her husband who was watching his favorite TV show. Unfortunately while trying to fix the nail, she drops the hammer causing a loud bang. Disturbed and nervous, the husband runs to the kitchen, and demands to know; “What are you doing?” in a loud voice.

To better understand his wife’s emotional state, let us briefly learn about her belief system which is based on her upbringing and environment. As a single child born to very loving parents, she was raised almost like a boy by her dad, who would have her help him in all sorts of chores and tasks at home. If she ever broke or dropped something, her dad would come running and the first thing he would ask, “How are you doing?” Both the statements have a very small difference (What versus How) but a significant one for her emotional growth.

In the later case, her dad is concerned about his daughter’s wellbeing first, the rest comes later. For the wife, her husband’s statement; “What are you doing?” signifies the following:

• Assigning blame: you don’t know what you are doing
• Imply: move over, I can handle this
• Demonstrate anger: instead of thankfulness for someone who is going the extra mile and getting things done.

When we look at the background from which her husband comes, his behavior would not surprise us. He was raised in an all boys’ family; father with a military background, coaxing kids to lead a rough and tough life. For him, a women trying to do a man’s job is irritating.

Let us hold our thoughts on the above two process – activating events and belief system, for now. The next process that impacts our emotional stance leading to a particular behavior in this chain of event is about the way we metabolize information. Over twenty three centuries ago, Aristotle was one of the first proponents to study the inner-workings of the mind and how they affect human experience. He believed all of people’s concepts and all of their knowledge was ultimately based on perception.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (other topics)
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts (other topics)