Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

“Drive”, by Daniel Pink answers plainly the omnipresent question “What will make me happy and engaged in my life and career?”. What I have felt so strongly throughout my career is confronted head on in this book and the answers you uncover will likely surprise you.

Like many, I typically would fall back to standard, cliche’ answers:

  • “I want to be promoted. If I just moved up, I would be happy.”
  • “I want to manage people. The more in my organization, the happier I will be.”
  • “I don’t have enough money. I really just need more money to be happy.”


All of these things have come pretty quickly in my career, and I can tell you without doubt, they do not ensure sustainable engagement, motivation, or happiness. The things that have motivated me seem to be the residue of having a persuasive personality and organizing my work (come hell or high water) to give myself the three things Dan Pink describes as critical.

  1. Autonomy – being self directed and interested
  2. Mastery – being great at what I do
  3. Purpose – what I do “means” something and makes a difference

Not only does the book describe those motivators, it also explains the incredible disconnect employers of “thought workers” have had (and still have) related to what motivates their teams and workforce. I happen to work with teams that create art for living (software systems). These people spin value out of whole cloth. They essentially take concepts and thoughts and turn them into tangible goods for others to hold, interact with, and use. I cannot think of a better definition of a “thought worker”, can you?

Yet, nearly every employer of software developers I encounter has had it wrong in some form or another. To begin the journey of trying to satisfy the needs of those team members, you first must understand what motivates them. The book has moved me a bit closer to that understanding. This video, brilliantly produced by RSA Animate, gives you some of the shocking truth behind what motivates us.

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