I read a book a few months ago called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and it really changed the way I look at why I do things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not try to be philosophical or anything; it’s just that when we understand what motivates us the most, we can perform better financially, physically, and relationally.
Defining What Motivates Us
Without question, money is a huge motivator. There’s nothing wrong with making money. In fact, the Bible even says that the ‘worker is worth his wage,’ and has plenty of verses that promote a fair wage.
We are made to work and to be compensated for it. But what happens when you feel forced to stay in a job that you hate because you can’t afford to do the job that you love? What do you do when you realize that you’d rather do a lower paying job that is personally fulfilling over a horrible job that pays well?
When you ask these tough questions, you start to find out what else motivates you to work your best – and these motivators often don’t have a dollar sign tied to them.
Recognition And Promotion
The author of Drive shared that people can be extrinsically motivated (primarily money) or intrinsically motivated (personal satisfaction). It’s the second piece to the motivation puzzle that can be really difficult to pinpoint for an individual.
It might sound cheesy or insignificant, but the small things like kind words or recognition after a job well done can really motivate someone to work harder. Conversely, public recognition isn’t a motivator for others, and may even turn them off from wanting to reach their full potential in fear of unwanted promotion.
Have you ever just wanted someone to see or acknowledge that you did something beyond the status quo? I’d almost say that this recognition lasts longer than a paycheck typically does! Why? Because when you’re intrinsically motivated to go above and beyond, a small word of recognition can be the fuel you need to head up new projects or even look for ways to make the company more efficient.
Are You Intrinsically Or Extrinsically Motivated?
There isn’t one that’s better than the other, per se. You can be intrinsically motivated and still have issues when the drive for recognition and promotion leads you to build up too much pride and even conceit.
The downside to being solely motivated by extrinsic factors like money is the potential to be swayed by greed and selfishness. Like most things, having a balance between the two is usually the best in terms of motivation, but you might be tilted to one in particular. Daniel Pink, the author of DRIVE has a free survey that helps you see if you’re primary means of motivation is intrinsic or extrinsic.
So what motivates you? Are you driven to work harder when you are paid more or would you rather have recognition like a promotion or greater responsibilities?
(There isn’t a wrong answer, I would say I’m a little of both, but the survey said I was more extrinsic – go figure, a personal finance writer who’s motivated by money)
Last Edited: 7th April 2011