Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us - Daniel H. Pink

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us - Daniel H. Pink

Get to know the three elements of this concept that explains how we really are motivated and inspired to act.

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Do you feel dissatisfied with your personal and professional life? Do you feel that your goals are distant dreams? Understand why it's an issue with many other people in the world with the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us".

According to the author Daniel Pink, the problem lies in the way our work is structured. The forms of reward, punishment, and motivation are no longer suited to our increasingly dynamic and creative world.

That's why a new approach is needed to bring about change! See, in this summary, the concept developed by the author: Motivation 3.0.

About the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us"

Published in December 2009, the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" brings a new insight into what motivates us and explains why many people feel dissatisfied with their work today.

Divided into three parts, the author Daniel H. Pink shows, throughout the 288 pages of the book, the concepts and practical applications of the principle of Motivation 3.0, which he developed.

The book entered the best-selling list of the following newspapers: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post.

About the author Daniel H. Pink

Daniel H. Pink was born in 1964, in the United States. He writes about administration, management, and marketing.

His books, all considered bestsellers, have been translated into 35 different languages and have sold more than one million copies in the United States alone. Check out the summary of two of his other works:

To whom is this book indicated?

The author's ideas are interesting for people who want to learn more about the components of human motivation, through historical examples and practical applications.

Also, the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" will help those who wish to be motivated and inspired.

Main ideas of the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us"

Here are some highlights of Daniel Pink's teachings:

  • Motivation is something of human nature, but the ways of activating it must adapt to the changes and circumstances of the world;
  • The leadership practices used since the first industrial revolution no longer work, on the contrary, they are counterproductive;
  • The concept of Motivation 3.0 is based on three psychological needs inherent to the human being: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

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[Book Summary] Drive - Daniel H. Pink

Overview: A new operating system

In the first segment of the book "Drive", the author Daniel Pink makes a historical review of human society and how the way we are motivated changed.

Approximately 50, 000 years ago, at the beginning of human existence, the motivation was to survive amid inherent dangers and difficulties. The author treats this as a society operating system, calling it Motivation 1.0.

As civilization has been advancing, a new approach, that is, a new operating system has also been developed, called Motivation 2.0: the search for reward and escape from punishment.

This approach has worked well over the last 200 years, serving for efficient manual work on assembly lines, for example.

However, this understanding has recently been outdated because it fails to explain motivation in cases such as:

  • People's willingness to contribute to projects that do not generate financial returns, like Wikipedia;
  • New corporate structures that emphasize social welfare more than profit maximization;
  • People who switched jobs to one that paid less, but served a clearer purpose for them.

Motivation 2.0 is based on two ideas: rewarding an activity causes it to repeat itself and punishing an activity reduces its occurrence. However, the author Daniel H. Pink highlights the failures of this operating system of reward and punishment:

  • Rewards reduce intrinsic motivation;
  • Rewards lower peak performance;
  • Rewards decrease creativity and good behavior;
  • Rewards create addictions;
  • Rewards discourage long-term thinking.

Therefore, the need for a new "operating system" to deal with the current circumstances is evident. This system is called Motivation 3.0, which will be explained next.

Overview: The three elements

The author Daniel H. Pink explains in more detail how this new approach works, which is based on three aspects: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

1. Autonomy

According to the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us", humans are naturally made to be autonomous. Daniel Pink mentions the example of children, who are mostly curious and enjoy exploring. However, over time, we are conditioned to accept a rigid and disciplined environment.

The four fundamentals of autonomy are:


People need to have some autonomy to choose what they are going to work with. One way to do it is to allow employees to develop the project they want for 20% of the workday time.

Companies such as 3M and Google have adopted this practice and as a result have obtained projects such as Post-its, Gmail, and Google Translate.


Many employees, in addition to fulfilling their workday in the company, need to be available by cell phone and email during their leisure time.

It damages their well-being, hobbies, and personal relationships, which lowers motivation and can increase the level of turnover.

As the author Daniel Pink affirms, the antidote to this problem is to establish an environment focused only on results, that is, the focus is on the work itself, not on the time needed to accomplish it.

Employees need to reach goals and deadlines in the same way, but as long as they can, they may have the autonomy to work when and where they want.

Netflix is an example of the more extensive application of this practice since it offers unlimited vacations to its employees.


In the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us", it is emphasized that people don't have to be "micromanaged", that is, to be observed in the smallest details on how they conduct a task.

Once the goals have been set, people should have the autonomy to figure out the best way to achieve them.

Jetblue, an American airline, allows its employees to answer customer calls without having to follow a rigid roadmap or guidelines. This brought greater public satisfaction.


In most organizations, you cannot choose the team you are going to work with. This can lead to frustrating scenarios, in which you are forced to work with people you don't like.

In Whole Foods, candidates take a 30-day test with a team, and then the team members decide whether the person should be hired or not.

At FedEx, for 20 percent of the time, employees can work in groups they choose.

2. Mastery

It is natural that people want to improve their skills and be recognized for it. Therefore, it is crucial that improvement is always promoted in the workplace. To do so, the author Daniel Pink suggests the following practices in the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us":

  • Do challenging tasks, which will require development to be completed. However, it is important that they're not extremely difficult as this can trigger anxiety;
  • Set clear goals;
  • Provide fast and enlightening feedbacks;
  • Always seek challenges.

The author points out that a growth mindset is essential to developing mastery.

3. Purpose

The third pillar of Motivation 3.0 represents the "why" of the work. The author Daniel H. Pink states that understanding the purpose well makes people work harder and perform more efficiently.

Therefore, to develop purpose within an organization, one must:

Overview: The toolbox

At the end of the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us", the author Daniel Pink brings various applications of Motivation 3.0 into the most varied situations in life, whether personal or professional.

Some of the tips provided by the author to apply these practices within organizations are:

  • Provide 20% of the time for employees to work on projects they have chosen;
  • Conduct anonymous surveys on autonomy and purpose;
  • Make your own performance analysis, constantly;
  • Encourages rewards among employees themselves, not just from above;
  • Involve employees in setting goals;
  • Work to further develop those people who are good, not trying to put the minority that does not perform satisfactorily to an average standard;
  • Introduce changes in a smart and well-planned way;
  • Always emphasize the results.

What do other authors say about it?

In "Deep Work", the author Cal Newport argues that, in almost all professions, maintaining a focused work provides enormous benefits. He then presents the four rules to work focused and make that a habit.

Ken Mogi says, in the book "Ikigai", that the word ikigai is of Japanese origin and means, in free translation, "reason for living". He says that everyone has an ikigai, we just need to find it.

Finally, to learn more about motivation, Simon Sinek's book "Start with Why" aims to inspire others to succeed at work. In this journey, the author highlights the importance of knowing your "why", that is, your purpose and your final mission.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

The principles shared by the author Daniel H. Pink can be used in our work and personal lives. So, here are some final tips:

  • Define what you intend to accomplish or be recognized for. Then, reorganize your life by focusing on that purpose;
  • Write down your daily progress toward that goal;
  • Understand which weaknesses are pushing you away from this goal;
  • Focus your efforts on reducing or extinguishing these failures;
  • Always consider constant feedbacks;
  • Maintain discipline.

Did you like this summary of the book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us"?

Do you feel inspired and motivated to pursue your goals? Tell us in the comments, your opinion is very important!

To check the examples and learn more about the concepts developed by Daniel Pink, you can buy "Drive" by clicking on the image below:

Book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”