Author | Freelance Writer | Entrepreneur | Speaker and Workshop Leader

Daniel Pink on the Science Behind Motivation

“There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.”

Daniel Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human, makes a strong case for what really motivates us. Intrinsic motivation, which comes out of “autonomy, mastery, and purpose” win by a knockout when it comes to high-performance. The amazing truth about all this? Science knows what we already feel to be true. Carrots and sticks don’t get it done when it comes to motivation.

These contingent motivators — if you do this, then you get that — work in some circumstances. But for a lot of tasks, they actually either don’t work or, often, they do harm. This is one of the most robust findings in social science, and also one of the most ignored. I spent the last couple of years looking at the science of human motivation, particularly the dynamics of extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators. And I’m telling you, it’s not even close.





The secret to high performance and satisfaction–at work, school, and home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. In Drive, Pink draws on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, and exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life.

Rewards, by their very nature, narrow our focus, concentrate the mind; that’s why they work in so many cases. And so, for tasks like this, a narrow focus, where you just see the goal right there, zoom straight ahead to it, they work really well.”






To Sell Is Human offers a fresh look at the art and science of selling. As he does in Drive, Pink draws on a rich trove of social science for his counterintuitive insights. He reveals the new ABCs of moving others (it’s no longer “Always Be Closing”), explains why extraverts don’t make the best salespeople, and shows how giving people an “off-ramp” for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.

The new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses.”

Here he making his “case” his now-famous Ted Talk.

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