What would you do for free?

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink discusses the things that motivate us.

There is lots of good pondering material in this book on things such as why giving more money to your team won't necessarily motivate them, and the three elements of true motivation- autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

I won't be talking about the book today.

But I do want to talk about an observation Mr Pink made about how highly paid, highly educated people in significant positions in their career would often have an alternate life - that consumed great time and effort without any financial compensation.

This ranged from learning an instrument and performing in a garage band, to donating time to charities, to helping build a crowd-sourced, open source online encyclopedia (Wikipedia).

The Rock Bottom Remainders featuring Dave Barry ‧ Amy Tan ‧ Mitch Albom ‧ Scott Turow ‧ Greg Iles ‧ Ridley Pearson ‧ James McBride ‧ Roy Blount, Jr. ‧ Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Stephen King. The Rock Bottom Remainders is a band that includes some of today’s most shining literary lights. Between them, they’ve published more than 150 titles, sold more than 150 million books, and been translated into more than 25 languages. Image from http://www.clubzone.com/events/186714/washington-dc/9:30-nightclub/the-rock-bottom-remainders

Great energy was invested here.


People seek out opportunities that allow them the opportunity to have autonomy, mastery and purpose. They give up their own time and resources to do it and the world is a better place because of it.

But what about the workplace?

As a leader, you have influence on how much autonomy your people have, the professional development they need to help them master things, and the ability to articulate the unique contribution each one of your team makes.

Having these elements in place outside of their work life motivates your team.

Can you imagine the difference if you provided the opportunity for the on-third of their life at work?

In a previous post I mentioned how I had interviewed every one of my new team of approximately 100 people at a large college.  One of the questioned I asked was "What do you do when you are not at work? (I wanted to know their passions - what they poured energy into when they weren't being paid)

I hadn't read Pink's book yet, but the results I had from incorporating elements of their passions into their roles, the projects they were assigned to, how I paired people up to work on things, etc. had a measurable performance improvement.  My results certainly validate Dan Pink's observations.

What has worked for you to motivate your team?

And how about you?  What do you do when you are not at work that feeds your need for autonomy, mastery and purpose?

How might you incorporate those elements into your role?

Bonus: If you have no time to read the whole book, you can get a summary.  With pictures.

Check out RSA Animate's version of Drive

Check out RSA Animate's other great work here.


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