Psychology

BOOK REVIEW: DRIVE

Drive_The_Surprising_Truth_About_What_Motivates_Us_1-sixhundredDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Recommended for: Any new manager, anyone who wants to learn the best way to get the best out of your people.

This one has been on the top of my reading list for quite awhile. It keeps coming up on podcasts I listen to (Mark Graban and This Agile Life).

The premise of the book is that when it comes to motivating people, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. If we want to strengthen our companies, elevate our lives, and improve the world we need to close this gap. Our current model for business is to use sticks and carrots to motivate, but these don’t work and can cause harm. Science shows the way to upgrade. Pink sites three essential elements: 1. Autonomy- the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery- the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose- the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Here’s my top 21 takeaways:

  1. Workers were once approached like parts in a complicated machine. If they did the work in the right way at the right time, the machine would function smoothly. To ensure it continued, you rewarded the behavior you sought and punished the behavior you discouraged.
  2. Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self determined and connected to one another. When that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.
  3. Rewards (carrots) can deliver a short term boost, like a jolt of caffeine, but the effect wears off and can reduce a person’s long term motivation to continue the project.
  4. Some advocates say that extrinsic motivation is all evil, but Pink says this isn’t true. What’s true, he says, is that mixing rewards with inherently interesting, creative, or noble tasks—without understanding the science of motivation—is a very dangerous game. He created this flow chart to help you determine when to use rewards:rewards-simple-flow-chart
  5. Goals that people set for themselves and are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy. Goals imposed by others—sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized test scores– can have dangerous side effects.
  6. All goals are not created equal. Goals and extrinsic rewards aren’t inherently corrupting, but goals are more toxic than traditional management thinks.
  7. Carrots can cause addiction. Rewards and trophies can provide a delicious jolt, but the feeling soon dissipates and to keep it alive the recipient requires even larger doses and more frequent doses (scary!).
  8. Ensure that the baseline rewards—wages, salaries, benefits are adequate. Without a healthy baseline, motivation of any sort is difficult and often impossible.
  9. Any extrinsic reward should be offered after the task is completed. If you offer the reward before hand, people will focus on the reward instead of the task. In other words, shift from “if-then” rewards to “now that” rewards. HOWEVER, repeated “now that” bonuses can become “if-then” entitlements which can crater effective performances.
  10. Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than their reward seeking counterparts in the long run. Its not true for the short term, though. However, continuing to get short term results is difficult to sustain.
  11. We forget that management does not emanate from nature. Its not like a river or a tree. Its like a tree or a bicycle. Its something humans invented.
  12. Good change agent strategy– If you want to work with more progressive management-style people the best strategy is to become one yourself. It becomes contagious.
  13. Transitioning to autonomy won’t or can’t happen in one fell swoop. Plucking people out of controlling environments and plopping them into autonomous ones will cause the people to struggle. Organizations must provide scaffolding.
  14. The highest most satisfying experiences in people’s lives is when they are in the state of Flow (Its a fascinating concept if you haven’t heard of it before. Take a look!!).
  15. One source of frustration in the workplace is the frequent mismatch between what people must do and what people can do. When what they must do exceeds their capabilities, the result is anxiety. When what they must do falls short of their capabilities, the result is boredom.
  16. A challenge must not be too hard nor too easy in order for a person to achieve flow. Pink calls these Goldilock tasks (not too hot not too cold).
  17. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who coined the term Flow and who studies it, conducted an experiment that deprived people of Flow. The subjects experienced what is called general anxiety disorder in the medical field. People become sluggish, they complained of headaches, many complained of difficulty concentrating, some got sleepy, others were too agitated to sleep. Csikszentmihalyi said that just after two days, people’s mood became so deteriorated it became inadvisable to continue with the experiment. Conclusion—flow is a necessity. We need it to survive. (I found this fascinating!)
  18. Csikszentmihalyi discovered we are more likely to experience flow during work than during leisure.
  19. “One cannot lead a life that is truly excellent without feeling that one belongs to somethin greater and more permanent than oneself.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  20. Great people have one sentence that describes their purpose (ex. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and kept the Union intact.”). Orient your life toward a greater purpose by summarizing it in one sentence. So ask: “What’s your sentence?”
  21. Ask yourself each night before you go to bed, “Was I better than yesterday?”

At the end of the book, Pink lists essential reading to learn more, highlights management thinkers who get it (oddly, Deming wasn’t listed—he would have been all over this book), provides a glossary for new terminology, and gives suggestions on how to improve motivation in organizations and personal lives (exercising and motivating kids!).

Pink also gives questions for people to discuss among themselves. I’d be curious to have a traditional manager read this book and see what they think. I can’t help but hear them saying already, “Yes, but . . .”

I think this is a must-have book for any leader or manager. As a matter of fact, if I were to recommend just one book for a manager to read, I believe this would be the one. Its powerful.

You can buy the book here.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Charisma Myth

The-_Charisma-_Myth-_Olivia-_Fox-_CabaneDAN’S SCORE: stars-4-5
The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism
by Olivia Fox Cabane


I’ve been wanting to read this book for three years now when I first heard a podcast with the author, Olivia Fox Carbane, at The Art of Manliness.

The premise of the book is that charisma is not necessarily something someone is born with. Its something that people can learn and use as a weapon in their leadership arsenal.

I’m often confounded on how one changes people’s minds and paradigms. I started thinking about how Deming emphasized the importance of psychology. He usually talked about it in reference to how people learn or are motivated, but shouldn’t we also use psychology to change people’s minds? Charisma would be an awesome thing to have in a change agent’s tool belt.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways:

  • The book starts off with an example of how Marilyn Monroe could turn her charisma on and off at will. The story goes Munroe was riding in a train with a reporter in New York, but no one knew who she was. Then all of the sudden, Munroe just turned ‘on’ and she was suddenly mobbed.
  • The three sources of charisma is presence, power, and warmth.
  • Of these, Cabane said if you can just master presence, you will have a tremendous advantage.
  • Cabane says its important to focus on your internal charisma before focusing on the external. This will give you a solid foundation so you can always be ‘on’ when you need to be–don’t be caught flatfooted or unaware. You must be prepared mentally for tough situations to retain your charisma.
  • One of my big takeaways was her admonition to get used to being in uncomfortable situations. She said to learn to recognize when you are uncomfortable and then purposely invite it (like standing the wrong direction in a crowded elevator). You will soon get used to be in uncomfortable situations and won’t be so easily flapped. For someone who doesn’t like being in uncomfortable situations, this was a big lightbulb and one I’ve thought about a lot lately and have started to practice.
  • Some tips for becoming stronger mentally–rewrite reality (she said charismatic people are often living in their own weird world), visualization (she said create happy situations before hand–things that really get you jazzed–then being it to mind when you are feeling low), visualize a hug (it releases oxytocin and will calm you), or create an imaginary advisory council in your mind (Napoleon Hill did this).
  • She said its very important to have a lot of self compassion.
  • There are different types of charisma including visionary and focused charisma.
  • Body language is important. It can change your mood and behavior. The one thing she suggests is to be the big gorilla. Make yourself take up space and act powerful–like a gorilla. I’ve used this a lot. It seems to work. I at least feel more confident.
  • She said to treat everyone like they are the star of their own movie you are watching.
  • She says to dress like the people you are trying to influence–though dress on the upper edge of it (i.e.–dress like everyone, but be the one who is better dressed than most). She said its part of our tribal instincts. We want to be around people who look like us.
  • She had other advice in the book for negotiating and giving good presentations.
  • The author says that for those who master charisma, they often feel alone. They are always expected to do more and achieve great things. Those who are charismatic and don’t deliver will be destroyed by a disappointed society.
  • Cabane said once charisma is mastered, it can be extremely powerful. She pointed out that for some time, leadership gurus said it was a bad thing to use charisma. Peter Drucker said it was dangerous and pointed out the most charismatic people of the 20th century were Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Mao. She warned charisma can be like a knife. It can be used to heal or used to harm and it must be used responsibly.

Does all this work? Yes, I believe so. After reading this book, I feel more charismatic and I’ve felt my confidence growing. I already feel like I may be better influencing people. I’m going to be studying this book and applying its principles more often.

I listened to the book on Audible, but plan to get a hard copy. The book can be bought here.