The Surprising Science of Motivation

// November 17th, 2009 // Blog

I've been quickly getting through my pile of unwatched TED videos, during my daily one hour commute to and from uni. Everyday I say to myself: “Wow! I must post this on the blog!”, only to forget… which is probably a good thing, considering the number of “wow” moments I have recently experienced which would lead to the blog becoming a TED mirror site.

Anyway, the following video evoked a much larger 'wow' than the rest, because of the extent that the advice contained therein is so contrary to widespread public opinion. The engaging speaker, Dan Pink, proves that when it comes to motivation, the carrot and stick approach doesn't always work. Who knew?

Consider the impact that such research has on the city's 'bonus culture', which has been dominating the headlines of late? And of greater import: the nature of mainstream education. I feel like I've been bred to only perform in the presence of pressure, which means I'm always leaving things to the last minute. If only I could work effectively without threats of failure looming over my head!

Therefore, I urge you to watch the video… but I won't offer you any extra incentives to do so. ;)

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

2 Responses to “The Surprising Science of Motivation”

  1. iMuslim says:

    Update: I was thinking about this a little more from the perspective of reward and punishment in Islam, especially as the promise of Jannah, and the threat of Jahannum serve as key motivators in doing good and avoiding evil. Consider the well-known statement of Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah (rahimahullah):

    The heart in its journey towards Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, is like a bird whose head is love, and hope and fear are its two wings. When the head and the two wings are sound and healthy the flight of the bird is good, but when the head is cut off, it immediately dies, and when either or both wings are deficient, the bird cannot properly fly and may become victim of any hunter or snare.

    So reward and punishment – i.e., hope and fear, cannot be enough for us to reach Allah. Love is key.

    I think this same message is reflected in Dan Pink’s advice on how to best conduct our affairs in the dunya. It’s not enough to be promised rewards, or threatened with punishments: you have to love what you do, to be truly successful at it.

    Cool, huh? :)

  2. Yasir Qadhi says:

    Not bad… learnt a lot.

    And BTW you were right: he’s far more effective in presenting it than you are :)

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