Pink Describes What ‘Drives’ Us

In the final general session of the 2010 NSBA Leadership Conference, former political aide, speech writer to Al Gore, and author Daniel Pink illuminated audience members with the findings from his latest book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” Better yet, he showed them what he discovered after several years of research.

“Who here didn’t have breakfast and is thinking about lunch?” Pink queried the crowd.

A hand in the back of the room shot up. It belonged to a woman named Kathy, who hailed from Grand Rapids, Mich.

“Kathy, you’re hungry? Here you go,” Pink said, before handing her a bag containing a bagel and orange juice. “So, Kathy’s being hungry is one motivation. We eat when we’re hungry, drink when we’re thirsty, and we have sex to satisfy our carnal needs. But that’s not all we need as humans, except if you’re a man between ages of 15 to 17.”

Pink called on the audience to illustrate another human motivator.

“I’ll give anyone $10, if they come up here and hold my book up for 30 seconds.” Charlie from Columbus, Ohio, obliged willingly. “As you see, humans respond exquisitely to rewards and punishment.”

But it’s the third drive, the concept that humans will do things because it’s interesting, because we want to get better at it, because we want to contribute to the world, which can inspire humans the most, yet is the least utilized by management and organizations.

“That third drive is extraordinarily important in achieving all kinds of things,” Pink said. “The trouble is businesses and even schools rely too much on that second drive. They think the only reason people will do anything worthy is to entice them with a carrot or beat them with a stick.”

But four years of research and countless studies have shown that just isn’t true.

“If you doubt the salience of that third drive, then let me ask you this: What are you doing here?” Pink said. “Why do you serve on a school board of a state association? You do it because it matters, because it contributes to your community.”

Even though, much of education reform these days seems to focus on incentives and punishments, Pink told the audience they should have cause to be optimistic about their teaching force.

“Intrinsic motivation is what they understand, almost better than anybody else.”

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|January 31st, 2010|Categories: Leadership Conference 2010, School Board News, School Boards, Teachers|Tags: |

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