Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us


When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and business does. Our current business operating system — which is built around external, carrot and stick motivators–doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade, and the science shows the way.

This new approach has three essential elements:

  • Autonomy*-*the desire to direct our own lives;
  • Mastery-the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters; and
  • Purpose-the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.


Peoples happiest and most satisfying experiences happen while in Flow

  • Goals are clear
  • Feedback is immediate
  • The challenge is neither too easy nor too hard

Set an alarm to randomly go off on your phone 8 times a day, for 5 days

  • Immediately record what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and whether you’re in “flow”

Observe the patterns that will emerge

  • How do you find flow?
    • Where? When? What? Who?
    • Could your day be structured from this?
    • How can you increase flow and decrease “anti-flow”?
    • What does this tell you about your intrinsic motivation?

Getting into, or back into, Flow

Develop a set of cards with simple statements or questions that would prod one back into working

  • Some examples: What would your best friend do? Your mistake was a hidden intention. What is the simplest solution? Repetition is a form of change. Don’t avoid what is easy.
  • Can buy a premade deck at
  • Can also check a certain twitter

Make your own motivational poster

List behaviors that sap energy, divert focus, and ought to be avoided.

Re-make this list every week to keep it relevant


Mastery is a mindset: It requires the capacity to see your abilities not as finite, but as infinitely improvable. Mastery is a pain: it demands effort, grit, and deliberate practice. And Mastery is an asymptote: It’s impossible to fully realize, which makes it both frustrating and alluring.

Developing Mastery

Practice to improve performance, not just to practice

  1. Change goals as necessary, always shoot higher each time

Constant Honest Feedback

  1. You have to know where you are to know where to go

Focus on what needs work

  1. Don’t focus on what’s already strong

It will be exhausting, be prepared

Goal Setting

At the beginning of the month, set performance and learning goals

At the end of the month, have a personal performance review

Set small and large goals for small wins and big aspirations

Give every goal purpose

Be entirely honest

Results Only Work Environments (ROWEs)

No schedules

Optional meetings

No set number of hours to meet

Only have to get the job done

Everyone at every level stops doing anything that is a waste of their time, the customer’s time, or the company’s time

20 Percent Time

Employees can spend 20% of their time working on any project they choose

Does not have to be work related

Has given birth to things such as Post-Its, Google News, and GMail

Could be applied to personal life, spend 20% of work time on random tasks, or 20% of time in general

Cultivating Self-Motivation

Lead with questions, not answers

Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion

Conduct autopsies without blame

Build “red flag” mechanisms, make it easy for people to speak up when they see a problem

“Now That” Rewards

Rewards offered “Now That” a task has been completed

Safer than if-then rewards

Acknowledge achievement instead of attempting to force it

Use of “Why”

People sometimes need help finding intrinsic motivation

Showing them the benefit of their work can help develop intrinsic motivation

Finding Purpose

If you had to define your goals with one sentence, what would it be?

i.e. “She taught two generations of children how to read” or “He invented a device that made peoples’ lives easier”

A Daily Question

“Was I a little better today than yesterday?”

What wake you up and keeps you up

Get some blank 3×5 cards

Write what gets you up in the morning on one side

Write what keeps you up at night on the other

Keep them both one sentence

Keep trying until you have something you can live by, that gives you meaning and direction

We vs. They

You can get an idea of a company environment by asking people their questions about it

If they respond with “we” when referring to the company, it’s good

If they use “they,” it’s bad

Notable Quotes

“If you set a goal of becoming an expert in your business, you would immediately start doing all kinds of things you don’t do now”

“What do you do if you wake up in the morning and dread going to work, because the daily routine no longer satisfies your standards”

Do rewards motivate people? Absolutely. They motivate people to get rewards