I recently watched a YouTube video that my friend sent me called, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc) and it really got me thinking how our world, our networks, and our jobs could be come better suited to us, the people. 

The premise behind the video was to inform us that we are not as predictable as we think when it comes to what does and what doesn’t motivate us.  There is a basic assumption out there that if we reward something, more of that behavior will ensue, but if we punish someone for it, then you will get less of it. 

A study was done in India that involved a group of people performing a certain task with three different levels of rewards ($) for performance.  The results were staggering as the people offered the highest reward did the worst, while the people who were offered the middle reward did no better than those offered the minimum reward. 

What the study shows is that there are three different factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery and purpose.  If businesses want engagement, then self-direction is better than management supervision. 

Most incentives involve some sort of money, and most people believe this is why we do certain jobs- to make a profit.  However, this video points out that the money incentive doesn’t work when it comes to tasks that are more complicated and involve creative thinking.  Instead, what really motivates us is mastery.

Mastery is why we do certain activities without incentives; there is no money reward or anything of that nature besides getting better at something and enjoying your task. 

Thus, Atlassian, an Australian computer software company decided to give its employees 24 hours at the end of a quarter to work on any task: you can work on it how you want, where you want, and with whomever you want.  All they asked was to show them the results at the end of 24 hours.  It turned out that at the end of the 24 hours, a whole array of fixes and new ideas for computer software were created that would never have been possible if not for 1 day of complete, undiluted autonomy. 

This idea of challenge along with making a contribution is what is driving more and more people to perform better at work.  In fact, more organizations have caught onto Atlassian’s quarterly task because it makes coming to work better and gets them more talent and results.  Isn’t that all companies want in the end anyways.

Anyways, I thought the video was extremely intriguing as it sheds light on a whole new form of incentive that most people are unaware of.  If this idea catches on, I believe it’s evident that new technological advances will come to fruition in the future- and its all because of this purpose motive, and doing things for oneself and not for a cash reward. 

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