April 27 2016

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

What makes you tick? What thought makes you spring out of bed in the morning or what idea keeps you up at night? Are you in a job that you love? After I left My Modern Met, these are the questions I asked myself over and over until I decided that I wanted to pursue photography. The moment I had this epiphany, however, I also gained a lot of doubt. Would I be any good? Could I make this a real profession?

I turned to family, friends and books to help me out. One of the books I just finished, called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, gave me insight into what motivates people. Author Daniel H. Pink breaks motivation down to three essential elements: Autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), Mastery (the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters) and Purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves).

What I enjoyed the most was this idea of “flow.” It’s a mental state where goals are clear and feedback is immediate. In flow, the challenge isn’t too easy nor too hard. Rather, it’s a notch or two just beyond your current abilities. It stretches the mind and body to a “delicious reward.”

“In flow, people lived so deeply in the moment, and felt so utterly in control, that their sense of time, place, and even self melted away. They were autonomous, of course. But more than that, they were engaged.”

Have you ever been in “flow”? When I’m snapping away at pictures or post processing in Lightroom and even when I’m typing away at a blog post, I feel like I’m in this place called flow. In fact, sometimes I look back at the thousands of blog posts I wrote for My Modern Met and I can’t believe that they came from me. Not that they are particularly spectacular, but because I had the time and patience to come to my desk everyday and write for almost eight years. (And I don’t even consider myself a writer!)

Here are some other sentences that really resonated with me.

“As wonderful as flow is, the path to mastery-becoming ever better at something you care about-is not lined with daisies and spanned by a rainbow.”

“Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice for a minimum of 10 years. Mastery-of sports, music, business-requires effort (difficult, painful, excrutiating, all-consuming effort) over a long time (not a week or a month, but a decade).”

“Effort is one of the things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it.”

Towards the end of the book, Pink gives you choice (he calls it “toolkit”) of what chapters to read next. Overall, this book is a worthwhile read especially for those interested in leaning about drive.

Image via GQLaw

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