Pink suggests that internal motivation arises under three conditions: Autonomy People are fulfilled when they decide what to do and how to do it. Counter-examples include micro-management, inflexible working conditions, and one-way command-and-control structures. Positive examples include self-managed scrum teams, work-from-anywhere-and-whenever schedules, and agreeing on the goals of the final product rather than dictating the details of what that product is and how it must be created. Mastery Great people want the opportunity to do great work. They want to be around other people who are doing the same. Experts enjoy deploying their expertise; novices with vim and aptitude enjoy learning and growing. Purpose As the janitor famously answered in 1962 when president Kennedy asked him what he did for NASA, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” Everyone—not just Gen Z—wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. That could be a noble cause, or something more incremental but tangible, like genuinely helping another human being in their own endeavors, as one might do in a world-class customer service organization. Other work agrees with and extends these ideas3. However, I believe that to leap from Pink’s original question—What motivates people?—to my question—What is fulfilling?—at least one vital component is missing: Joy. 3 For example, Self-Determination Theory asserts that motivation arises from “autonomy, competence, and relatedness”—essentially the same thing.
Therefore, my recommendation is to identify that higher purpose, as described by “Start with Why” or ikigai, and fulfill your own part in that purpose at the center of the three circles.
oy You love doing it. When you do it all day, you forget to eat and pee. At the end of a long day of doing it, you still want to do it. Skill You’re great at it. Your work is so good, even you are proud of it. It stands out, and others notice. Those who don’t understand how much effort you expended say: “You’re a natural.” Need The company needs it done. It’s a top-three priority. Doing it well means a critical part of your strategy will succeed. Not doing it is crippling. Having any two without the third creates a well-defined yet common trap.
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