A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I just finished reading "Drive," a book by Daniel H. Pink about what motivates us.  He argues that we are motivated less by extrinsic rewards (carrots and sticks) and more by intrinsic rewards (the joy/learning of certain tasks).  Sadly, when I took Pink's online quiz to determine what motivates me, I lean more towards the extrinsic rewards end of the spectrum.  Is this a bad thing?  Maybe.  Or maybe it is simply a function of what industry I work in.  It's not like working as a tax accountant encourages creativity all the time ("creative accounting" is generally a pejorative term).

If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job.  The kind robots will be doing soon.
So very true.  Motivation is a lot more than a slogan or poster.

But I think what I took away from the book is that we can have two baseline assumptions about people: (1) we can either assume people are lazy bums who will not work unless we micromanage them (call this "The Older Sister" mindset) or (2) we can assume that people desire to work hard and enjoy the fruits of their labors.  This assumption about people changes how we treat them.

It's interesting that Mormonism combines these two views of people.  Mormons believe we can be motivated by what's called "carnal" desires or "the natural man" - the desire to be lazy, selfish, mean, and terrible.  Or we can be motivated by our "divine nature" to acquire the attributes of God - kindness, love, selflessness, and goodness.  I think what the book and Mormonism have in common is the belief that we can choose which assumption we tap into.  We can decide to view people as vile or virtuous.  But the truth is rarely "all-or-nothing" - sometimes I am motivated by carrots/sticks (i.e. I pay my credit card bill on time because I don't want to pay the late fee/interest) and sometimes I am motivated by a higher purpose (I volunteer because I want to help people).

This is expressed well, as always, by Shel Silverstein.  As the poet once said:
I asked the Zebra,
are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on and on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra about stripes...again.

Are we good with bad parts or bad with good parts?  A little bit of both, I think.  What do you think motivates or drives you?

Now that I've finished the book I "have" to read, I'm going to spend the rest of the day reading Jane Austen fan-fiction.
jane austen
Jane Knows All

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