Why do fools like me write blog posts every day, never expecting to get paid for it?
Why do brilliant computer programmers spend all their spare time creating open-source apps for free, when they already make money building software at work?
Why do aspiring novelists hone their skills for years, chasing the vision of that one breakout novel, when the probable advance makes minimum wage look like a pipe dream?
My dad sent me a link last week to a ten-minute video called The Surprising Science of Motivation. Here’s what it says. If you have a worker doing anything more complicated than turning a crank, and you want better performance, paying more money is not an effective motivator. Rather, people do their best work when they’re highly motivated. And the three critical motivation factors are Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
- Autonomy – People like having the freedom to control their own lives. We like to decide which projects we take on. That’s why Google and Twitter regularly give their employees time to work on anything they want. Where do you think Gmail came from?
- Mastery – People also like to get really, really good at things. That’s half the reason I play Go – I just enjoy seeing myself improve. Recognition from others doesn’t hurt, either.
- Purpose – You have to feel that the work you’re doing is meaningful. You have to believe it matters in some way. Whether that means building a Habitat For Humanity house to help someone, or just writing a poem you think is beautiful, doesn’t especially matter. It just has to make a difference to you.
Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose. AMP. Seems like common sense. Yet so many companies squander their brightest talents by draining away these simple human motivators.
Tell me – what drives you?