Off to a promising start: Goals that build in pleasure, productivity and proficiency

Having wrapped up the series on You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right, I want to introduce you to my next Inspiration Shout-Out, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink. While I purchased this book several years ago, it was only late last year that I sat down to read it. When I finished, I wondered what I might have done differently in my personal life and in my work if I had read it sooner.

As the title declares, the key idea Pink wants to get across is that the things that truly motivate us may not be those that are conventionally are touted as such. Moreover, many of what he refers to as “Motivation 2.0” approaches would appear to reduce or inhibit sustained curiosity, effort and imagination, and thereby undermine our natural drive toward pleasure, productivity and proficiency.

“The problem with making an extrinsic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route there, even if it means taking the low road.”

p. 51

If our motivation influences the path we take, then we need to craft a motivational approach, for ourselves and for those we lead or with whom we interact, such that we establish an environment that promotes effort, engagement and autonomy. With this in mind, here are several questions to ask yourself about your strategy for becoming and staying motivated:

  • How can we create goals such that they engage our internal wellspring of motivation: building competence, enhancing our sense of meaning and purpose, and fostering happiness?
  • How can we avoid distracting ourselves with quick fixes, short-term gains, addictive repetition or settling for what’s easy rather than what’s possible?
  • How can we make the activities needed to reach our goals so rewarding that we don’t just reach these goals, but instead far exceed them out of pure enjoyment?

“Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.”

p. 58

Where have you set your sights? How are you motivating yourself? Are the rewards you’ve selected taking you along a route that stimulates creativity, innovation, integrity and taking initiative?


Pink, Daniel. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. NY: Riverhead.

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The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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Off to a promising start: Goals that build in pleasure, productivity and proficiency