We were excited to come across the book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink. In it, Pink asks the all-important question – what is motivation and where can we find it? The obvious answer is that motivation must come from within.

That is the premise behind Pink’s book. What should and does motivate us, he says, is the desire to follow our own personal interests. As soon as you begin to read his book, it is clear that his ideas are more than logical – and yet, few of us seem to live by them. That may be why Pink’s book uses science to help change the way we think about motivation. 

According to Pink, following your own internal motivational desires not only benefits individuals – it benefits business. In describing how businesses can bring this thinking into their organisations, the challenges the way employers traditionally motivate and reward their employees with bigger pay packets and bigger offices. In fact, he says businesses have got it wrong – rather than motivate employees with the perks of the job, they should find ways for employees to intrinsically love their job. And his supporters agree. Scientific American reviewed his work and said, “Pink makes a convincing case that organisations ignore intrinsic motivation at their peril.”

It is not really a stretch to suggest that employees will be more motivated if they love what they do. However, it is obviously a fact we need reminding of. Pink states that companies need to give their employees three key elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy provides a sense of control and choice, mastery gives people a goal to strive for, and purpose is the reason to wake up and go to work every day – something outside ourselves.

While Pink admits that getting people to do mundane work may require incentives, long-term success requires companies to be agile enough to adapt to their employees’ changing needs, and to continue to give them new and exciting ways to find meaning in their work. What could be more motivating than that?