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Finding (and Defining) Motivation

January 16, 2018

Have you ever finished a work week and thought “that was a really great week, I feel so energized!” only to follow the next week with “well that week was a struggle…” Have you ever wondered what makes one week so different from the rest? Check out Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. 

For those who haven’t read Drive, it’s a workplace thriller. If you’re wanting to motivate your staff, catalyze your inner motivation, or make changes in the workplace, this book is a great start. 

Pink focuses on the three main elements of modern-day workplace motivation: 
1. Autonomy 
2. Mastery 
3. Purpose 

Here’s what I learned about each category: 

1. Autonomy 
Generally, we are motivated, self-sufficient, and driven when we have control over what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and when we’re doing it. If you’ve had a controlling or micro-managing boss, you know what this is all about. If we as employees, and as human beings, do not feel autonomous in our work, we lose interest and commitment. 

2. Mastery 
If we’ve mastered something, we’re no longer interested in doing it. Part of what drives us as human beings is a constant curiosity. We’re curious from birth, and we stay curious as adults. Because of that fact, we find drive and motivation in solving problems and continuously seeking and learning. Part of finding fulfillment in a career is finding a job that gives us the freedom to continuing learning and striving to be masters. 

3. Purpose 
We need to make money at what we do. That is the central premise of a job. We have to work to live. Purpose goes above and beyond sustaining our livelihood. We want to make money, but that is not at the heart of what drives us. We want to feel like we are making a difference, like we are working for a purpose. And while money can fill a momentary drive, it, like the firework, is soon gone, leaving us thirsting for greater, more exuberant fireworks. In order to find what drives us, to be motivated at work day-in and day-out, we have to find purpose in what we do…and no amount of money will make up for lack of purpose. 

Emily Villines, CPSM, MA 
Director of Marketing and Outreach

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