Three Concrete Ways To Drive Motivation

How to Drive Motivation Up – Or Down

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink outlines 3 criteria that are requirements for helping to drive motivation.

As an Education grad and former teacher, I was not at all surprised about the truths Pink outlines. I am, however, very happy that Pink has summarized motivational psychology in a way that gets the information out of the theory classes of post-secondary institutions and into the mainstream.

(Because like Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’ that is discussed here:, changing the conversation is the first step to driving much-needed change!)

Most of our institutions, including secondary schools, can stand to make better use of this information.

In Drive, Pink outlines that human motivation is an intrinsic process. Extrinsic motivators (like money and grades) often extinguish intrinsic motivation. Most of our organizations are still built on foundations of extrinsic motivation, and will continue to struggle until they can fundamentally alter their structures and internal systems.

It’s Best To Drive Motivation Intrinsically

In Pink’s book, he describes the limited situations under which the punishment and reward system of extrinsic motivators will work. For most learning and performance situations we encounter in our 21st century lives, we require systems that support intrinsic motivators.

Pink outlines the 3 key aspects to supporting intrinsic motivation in organizations. They are:

  • Autonomy: Freedom to take independent action without being ‘micro-managed’.
  • Mastery: The ability to understand one’s tasks and to take action to learn more.
  • Purpose: Feeling that one’s actions are helpful and contribute to a ‘greater good’.

Drive Motivation With Appreciative Inquiry

If supporting intrinsic motivation is a goal, then Appreciative Inquiry is a key components of how we get there. Appreciative Inquiry shifts our focus away from perceived weakness and towards building on strengths. The shift towards strengths helps people focus on the 3 aspects of intrinsic motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Like the idea of putting people first when creating an organization’s goals (, adopting a focus on supporting intrinsic motivation often requires a shift in mindset.

A mindset shift can be the most difficult step of any process and it’s one that may be addressed by understanding and using Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and its associated principles:

  • Constructionist Principle: We speak and words shape our world. We create our culture through language and social interaction.
  • Simultaneity Principle: When we ask a question, we aren’t neutral. Questions create changes in thought and action.
  • Poetic Principle: We choose what we focus on, and this describes how we see the world and speak about it.
  • Anticipatory Principle: Thoughts influence words which influence action. Our systems and culture move towards the image we hold of the future.
  • Positive Principle: If we’re looking to influence positive change, we need to create enough positive feeling and social bonding to reach the tipping point.