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Why do I do it? – Motivation

December 24, 2011

Maybe the most fundamental question when trying to find out what I’m all about (post: Who am I), is “Why do I do it?”. What is driving me? In one of his lectures on TED, Dan Pink sheds some light on what he thinks are the three most important factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction (in other words, that motivate us): autonomy, mastery and purpose. He explains how there is solid evidence to support this theory of motivation, while at the same time, it is largely ignored by most people that deal with people’s motivation (e.g. managers).

I’m investigating if there is a parallell between Pink’s three factors and the three basic what, how and why-questions that I find so interesting, and which I hope so much will by my holy-grail of self-awareness. Bertrand Russell will role over in his grave if he would hear me say this, as one of his messages to me (well… to the future in general) was: “Never let yourself be diverted by what you wish to believe…” (post: message to the future). Ah well, let’s call it a hypothesis then. 😉

My hypothesis, which is mine, is that:

  • Autonomy relates to what we do (and a bit of why)
  • Mastery relates to how we do it, and
  • Purpose relates to why we do it

If this would be true, Pink’s argument would be that 1) being free to do what we want, 2) being good at how we do things, and 3) knowing why we do things, explains why we do things. This sounds a bit circular and I’m not sure yet wheather this means it’s foolish or genius….

Some definitions according to Collins English dictionary:

  • Autonomy (philosophy): 1) the doctrine that the individual human will is or ought to be governed only by its own principles and laws, 2) the state in which one’s actions are autonomous
  • Mastery: 1) full command or understanding of a subject, 2) outstanding skill; expertise, 3) the power of command; control, 4)victory or superiority
  • Purpose: 1) the reason for which anything is done, created, or exists, 2) a fixed design, outcome, or idea that is the object of an action or other effort, 3) fixed intention in doing something; determination a man of purpose, 4) practical advantage or use to work to good purpose, 5) that which is relevant or under consideration

From → Motivation, Why?

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