Daniel Pink states “Greatness and nearsightedeness are incompatible”. He was making a point that in many cases, a carrots and sticks system leads to a short-sighted view of the world. People start focusing more on the rewards than in a broader sense of reality. You are into that addictive cycle of getting something back than seeing things in a longer-term perspective. He even argues that depending on the kind of reward, unethical behavior might happen just for the short-term benefits of getting whatever was promised. Coincidentally, I just read Stephen Krashen’s argument against the Accelerated Readers in the US. My son was part of the program, and I can tell you that the rewards the kids get from reading certain books are not what tick them to read more and better. Stephen mentions McLoyd’s study in 1979 that proved exactly that. The scientist had three groups of kids. One group would get a reward for reading and they knew what that would be, the other would get a smaller compensation for reading, and the third group was the no-reward one. Guess which group read more?
I see my kids reading more and more for sheer pleasure, they move forward because of their inner pleasure of reading, not because they will be paid, will get more candies or toys if they read three books a month. They do things at home not because of any allowance, but because they understand that this is to do good to the collective.
Daniel Pink’s book is still in accordance to my own beliefs and it makes me understand better my own drives. I’m moved by this third drive, one of passion, of the feeling I’m doing the right thing, expanding my own horizons, seeking a life of meaning in a conceptual age. That’s why the volunteer work I do is so pleasing, that’s why I crave for every new learning opportunity. When I think of the job I do, that’s why I’ve changed from a high-paying job to one that fulfills my need of moving forward, working on exciting projects, dealing with interesting people, different tribes who add to who I am.
What does it take for a business to enhance its professionals’ motivation to perform better, to be more efficient, to be happy? What does all this motivation concepts tell us about our classes and learners?