Book Review: Drive

Just read Daniel H. Pink's Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and I really liked it. Four out of five stars... and the missing one is just that they didn't go into quite the depth I wanted them to go into.

I don't know why I wish there was more to this book, but I kind of do. Still, it is one of those books where it presents something very simple and not always intuitive and you go... huh. Why didn't I think of that before? Kind of... some of this I got intuitively, but having it spelled out logically was kind of nice.

The basic premise is that people have an intrinsic desire to do good work. That the old economic model of carrots and sticks can actually do harm in the case of jobs that require creativity, versus the old assembly line jobs that were just 'do a certain set of clear steps'. That money and bonuses beyond what they need to live and do what they want with their lives can actually destroy or depress that desire.

I mean... being retired, I know that money for work depresses my motivation to do that. I have absolutely no desire to write code anymore. Period. One thing I really liked was that the fact that we've kept our child's allowance as a completely independent thing from his chores was vindicated in spades by this. Allowance is good for money management. Chores are simply a way to learn how to live with others and do things the right way. This book's good about pointing out that if the allowance is contingent on the chores, then the chores become onerous, something you have to get *paid* to do. Which was the experience I had as a kid, which is why I won't clean a house to save my life, now. *laughs* I'll pay someone else to do it.

Interesting thing is being able to now apply what I've learned from this to my painting and my writing. That getting paid *after* the work is done, especially unexpectedly can only help motivation. So I may well avoid the path of commissions and just go with "buy what I have already done if you want." We'll see.

Anyway, I liked it, though I kind of found the 'exercises' in the back to be more perfunctory than I wanted.
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interesting! i may have to check that out.
Interesting. Did the book go into rewards at all? For some, doing a job and then getting paid is confirmation of their work--it's not a carrot and stick, per say, it's more like a value acknowledgement.

Curious now and want to check out this book.
Well, not getting paid *enough* is a disincentive, i.e. if one isn't getting paid fairly, that will demotivate people; but beyond that, the extra bonus for doing a certain thing actually demotivates doing it creatively and for the mastery of it.

Ross has an animation linked to this entry in a comment that is pretty much the book in a nutshell.

Yeah, the way I was raised separated chores from allowance, though I was a bit of a scrooge when I was younger. I liked saving money, not spending it, and even as a kid was always going "Do I really, really, reallyreally NEED this?" before putting something back.

I learned to do chores as an almost soothing thing. I actually make a conscious effort to hold off from chores until I can do big, full loads of dishes and laundry because the process is stress-relief.

The unfortunate thing is, my grandparents tied in rewards for getting good grades at school. *laughs* which I ignored. I didn't care if they gave me money for A's, if I liked the class I worked hard in it. If I couldn't figure it out, I dropped it.

I'd seriously like to get my hands on that book as well, long as I'm on a self-help binge!
There's a free link that Ross put on this entry that has the whole thing in a nutshell. *grins* Hope it helps!!

That is interesting on the grades. Yeah... that's a good way to do it.
I wonder if the breaking of the "reward/more of this" is........ hm. Tied up in expectations, obligations, and not the right kind of reward.

I mean, I write fiction because, honestly, I want my dang ego fed. It's hungry. Hungry like Baxter, my pumpkin that walks like a cat who is kneading my tummy right now. Also, I'd like to have the money because I'm going to be doing the work anyway and I like what money buys; pay me for breathing? Yes, thanks!

Pay me and never have people say that my breathing writing is cool? Soul-crushing. It's like the time a friend and I figured out that a poetry contest was Vanity Scum Press. "Wait," we said, "they'll take this kinda-iffy thing we wrote and say it's great enough to be in their published book? What if we write something that is Just Too Horrible?" Well, they didn't accept it, but they didn't reject it, either. Obviously they had no rejection form letters. They only had "we love it! (now buy a copy from us for $20)" form letters.

Maybe I'm rigged to equate money to popularity, and thus... Hm.

Double-hmm. I was about to write While I can't necessarily write fiction to command -- especially if it's going to be graded and I know it, but I just realized. I'm not sure that's true. Fiction, maybe. But what my English Major taught me, probably the most important thing, was the "sit down and bang out words" stuff. It does not apply directly, nor easily, to true fiction -- more to answering arbitrary questions about other people's work, or comparing and contrasting elements of other people's work -- but pulling late-night essays on stuff I hated (and doing so well enough to get good grades) did give me good experience.

Conversely, attempting to pull fiction out of my butt to please a particular Fiction Writing Teacher... netted me a C- and a spate of Not Writing Anything for about a year. O:p

Which might circle around to the "insufficient rewards demotivate people, and that includes the wrong reward" theory. Praise and recognition probably go a longer way -- once someone has enough money to do what they want -- than money alone.

Of course, I'm not getting paid enough for my stuff to be sure how it would affect me. I would love the chance to find out... >_>

*goes back to watching the video*

EDIT: Yeah, it came 'round to approximately "the wrong reward" -- though it does need the "take money off the table" part, too.

I wonder if I'm not in the "take money off the table" phase...

Edited at 2010-06-29 11:15 pm (UTC)
Right on that C-... I think.

I think I found my own cycle of self-denial with the whole fanfiction thing... that to be popular meant getting comments... not just hits, and when I started getting fewer and fewer comments, I just.... stopped.

When I finally got back on the Twin Souls bandwagon it was for the love of the story itself. Just like with Winter War... I loved the stories, and really, really wanted to just write Byakuya the way I felt he ought to be written. To be true to the character, not the way I knew fangirls *wanted* him portrayed. And it amuses me that once I disconnected from "writing for comments" that I got more comments on that Byakuya piece than I have on anything else.

Writing a book that can't be shown to anyone, can't get my ego fed online has been quite the experience. I loved it. I loved *doing* it. And I'm realizing I want to do more because I so enjoyed the experience of doing it itself. I might get paid, I might get popular, but I don't *care* as the writing, itself, was so sweet.

So I hear you...

I was writing to get my ego fed, and found it never fed me as much as I thought I wanted. But writing for the writing's sake has really helped me feel better about it than anything else has...


And, yes, to that last. I agree fully. I hope you get there!!
Yeah, that's true -- if the ego's not getting fed, by comments or cash, it's harder. I need feedback! (Or, sometimes, a push, if there's writing for pay involved. The sense that someone's there who is personally invested in seeing what I write.)

I'm not sure if I could write a total book without any feedback, unless I had a really Firm Idea. But writing it only for the feedback is disheartening, or writing something and not getting "enough" feedback is disheartening. (Where "enough" is a variable that depends on how invested I am in writing the thing in the first place. The less invested, the more feedback I need...)
Mm... yeah... I do need feedback, too. It's too hard to get through a whole book without someone caring that about it, too, with me.

I didn't realize, though, that just *one* person would be enough to get me through a whole novel, though. That was... an experience.

So. yeah... balance. I think with writing, which really has to have both a writer and a reader to make it *live*, there has to be some kind of feedback to make sure it's touches someone.
My first novel... Hm. I did that one with no Internet, really, so it was just Ze Spouse reading it, and that worked.

Feedback! Is important! Ivory towers need Internet! *grin*
*nods at the latter* You may well still be in the "take money off the table" phase...

Being discontent with not *enough* financial gain to live or be comfortable is definitely a suck on motivation.

I'm in the odd and weird position of being comfortable...period... so money isn't on the table as a motivator to start.

And, yes, to your first sentence, completely.

*expected* reward is what demotivates. even with praise, as I found. grmph.

I need to fix that. *laughs*
Hmmmmmm! Expected rewards, yes... If you've built up... entitlement feelings towards rewards? Or... I wonder if it might tie into Impostor Syndrome? If people are "over-paid" for something they don't internally value so much (due to internal lack of Purpose, lack of Agency (self-motivation), lack of Improvement (mastery)), and get a bonus for being a "fake"...?

I wonder if I will ever get out of the "take money off the table" stage, honestly. I mean, yes, we are comfortable, and expect to be, but ze spouse is retiring soon, and I grew up with a grandfather who lived through the Depression, in a family where no one had a "steady, reliable job," and where my emotionally abusive sire constantly used the goad of "if we you [my mom] don't do everything I say and work extra hard, the IRS will come take everything and we will be out on the street"...

To paraphrase a Bujold quote, I'm not sure if I'll ever be "fat enough."

Especially when I want to throw money at friends so they can be comfortable enough to Create, as well as just worry about my own comfort and not being thrown out on the street.

I wonder if there are people who find enough Purpose and Mastery in problem-solving that the monetary rewards -- even at the point of Too Much -- are incidental? Ze spouse doesn't seem to much care about whether he's going to get one or not, for instance; he knows he probably will get something, but doesn't really... count on it, or think about it, near as I can tell. (Likewise, the kid requires different reward structures that are far more Pavlovian -- ding, treat! -- than the norm.) Spouse -- and kid's behaviorist -- think this is part and parcel of their Asperger's.
That's quite a past to work through.

I used to think that way. And, really, no matter how much one has, the possibility of the whole world falling down and the recession we're having makes it harder to think that it's "enough"... in some ways. It's all a risk. The market can fall, medical things can happen.

On the flip side, one could find out that one has only six months to live, and how much money would it take to do that?

I dunno. I think "fat enough" is something of a mindset. We don't have the fast cars, big houses on the coast, helicopters, and can't give grants to fund museums, schools, or art institutes, yet... it's enough.

I help out artists with commissions as I'm able... and that's been enough. It makes me happy.

As to the last, I think a lot of people do find Purpose and Mastery and Autonomy to make the monetary stuff moot. I know that one friend of mine went into create a company he could sell, and came out of it with multi-hundreds of millions of dollars. He's more proud of the fact he was able to structure and create and build the company appropriately then the exact amount of money. And since then he's simply done as he liked, including the grants, but only a nice house on the coast, not something insane mansion, and one fast car, the others are quite slow but electric. *laughs*
I need Enough to Provide For The Kid, too -- one of my... indignations... was that we had enough to get my sire's boyfriend a house, but no good dental care for me. Stuff like that. So... Enough, enough, enough. Terribly fuzzy word.

It's true, I probably would have an "enough" at some point, and if the market weren't bouncing around like it is, that might be closer. (Though the whole "provide an 'enough' for the kid" aspect would probably be in there as well...)

I try to compensate for my upbringing, but it can be hard. (For my early life, before age 9 or so, we had the huge house, and the trips overseas, and stuff like that. Going from that to "IRS will take everything"... Really screwed with my sense of "normal spending habits." I know it did. I have these "Ooo, want!" urges, and then they get smacked down with the anxiety of "must not spend." I dunno if it's worse than most people have -- ze spouse seems entirely unaffected by my occasional credit card purchases -- but it's bad enough to annoy me, anyway...)
Mmm..yeah, it's the entitlement problem.

*thoughtfuls at the Imposter Syndrome*

I used to have more of that with writing. Now I have less. *laughs* I kind of feel more like a writer, now, oddly enough.


And the bonus thing has to do with 'they'd only pay me so much if it was a hard/not fun thing to do' more than 'they're paying me for something I didn't really do...' *thinks*

I think. *laughs*
Hm! I can see that -- "why are they bribing me to do this? is there something bad about it?" Not my first thought... probably because I've never hit the TMOTT (taking money off the table) phase!

(I'd still like to find the limits of TMOTT for myself someday! O;D )
Hmm... We just commissioned a set of bowls from a potter here because she didn't have any left in the glaze that we wanted. I hope she doesn't see that as a disincentive.

Very cool video. Thanks, Ross. The author's also given a TED talk on the subject. It's got more of a business cast, but does talk about "narrowed focus" as an explanation for why carrots and sticks hurt creative work.

I talked to some startups and labs after my last job. One thing that struck me during that was just how unconvincing I found those traditional incentives. I'm not sure it's quite true that I have absolutely no desire to write code anymore, but it's *certainly* true that I have no desire to do it to excess for someone else or for pay. Period. It took me a while to realize that. The mastery and purpose aspects are something else, but there are so many interesting options there...
I think it's more mindset and bonus things for the first. Paying the going rate or things like that is probably just fine. *laughs* And you both have a good idea as to what it's going to be like.

Book had it, though, that commissioned works were just not quite as creative as those that weren't, and you're not looking for a completely uniquely new work of art from her.

I can paint something like what I've painted before for a commission, but... doing something completely new is kind of stressful and tricky. And sometimes odd when I'm not in the mood for hedgehogs or bamboo. *laughs*

Ooo!! Neat about the TED talk!!

*grins at the last paragraph* Yes. There are so *many* interesting options out there... and, yeah... it may well be "to excess" for me, too, but I have this shiny fiction thing I like doing, too, now. *laughs* Modeling without quite as thorough a set of functionality tests...