Book Review: Drive by Daniel Pink

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According to Drive by Daniel Pink, motivation has both intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics. Numerous companies rely on extrinsic motivation, despite the fact that this is often counterproductive. 

By reading this book, you can learn more about the psychology of human motivation and how to motivate yourself and others.

You may still be wondering if you should read the book. This book summary will tell you everything about this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.

Without further ado, let’s get started. 

Key Insights

Lesson 1: Studies have found intrinsic motivation to be more effective than extrinsic motivation in achieving long-term goals.

Once upon a time, we were all intrinsically motivated individuals. As children, we had an insatiable curiosity and an eagerness to explore the world around us. We didn’t need any external rewards or incentives to push us to learn and try new things. We simply did it because it was fun and interesting.

However, as we grew older, our natural curiosity and drive began to wane. We became more focused on external rewards, such as good grades, praise, and financial incentives. We started relying on these extrinsic motivators to perform even the most mundane tasks.

But as Daniel Pink points out in his book Drive, relying too heavily on extrinsic motivation can have negative consequences. It can suppress our innate drive and creativity, making us more focused on the reward than on the task itself.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at some studies. In one study, children were asked to draw as part of a class assignment. Some were told they would receive a certificate upon completion, while others were not given any indication of a reward. When both groups were later asked to draw without the promise of a reward, those who had previously received a certificate were no longer interested in the task. This suggests that the promise of praise had suppressed their intrinsic motivation.

Similarly, in a study where mechanics were incentivized to complete a certain number of repairs within a certain time frame, they may be tempted to perform unnecessary repairs in order to meet their goals and receive a bonus. This can be frustrating for customers and damage the company’s reputation.

And in yet another study, test subjects were asked to attach a candle to the wall. Some participants were promised money for solving the problem quickly, while others were not. The participants who were offered a reward showed a decrease in their ability to think creatively and had longer completion times compared to those who were not offered a reward.

These studies demonstrate how the promise of a reward can hinder our ability to think broadly and creatively about a task. It can also lead us to focus solely on the reward, rather than on the task itself, potentially damaging our intrinsic motivation.

So what can we do to avoid relying too heavily on extrinsic motivators? One suggestion is to focus on creating an environment that fosters intrinsic motivation. This could mean giving employees more autonomy, encouraging them to pursue their passions, and providing opportunities for them to learn and grow.

In the end, it’s important to remember that while extrinsic motivation can be effective in certain situations, relying too heavily on it can have negative consequences. By understanding the potential effects of motivators and focusing on creating an environment that fosters intrinsic motivation, we can help to preserve our innate drive and creativity.

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Lesson 2: Allowing others to develop at their own pace.

Are you feeling unmotivated and uninvested in your work? You’re not alone. Many workers in the United States report feeling disengaged from their jobs. But what if you could tap into your insatiable desire for excellence and achieve a state of “flow” where you’re completely immersed in your work?

That’s the idea behind “Motivation 3.0,” as described by Daniel Pink in his book Drive. When we’re motivated by a desire for excellence, we’re more likely to focus our efforts and energy on making progress in an area we care deeply about. This can lead to a state of “flow,” where we’re completely absorbed in our work and able to achieve peak performance.

The key to experiencing this flow state is finding tasks that challenge us just enough. When a task is too easy, we become bored and disengaged. When it’s too hard, we become overwhelmed and stressed. But when it’s just the right level of challenge, we’re able to fully engage with the task and experience the satisfaction of making progress.

As a leader, you can help your employees experience this flow state by assigning tasks that challenge them to grow and develop. Encourage them to set goals for themselves and provide opportunities for them to learn new skills. By doing so, you’ll not only increase their intrinsic motivation and engagement, but also help them improve their abilities over time.

It’s important to recognize that our innate abilities are not fixed and can be improved through practice and hard work. By giving your employees the freedom to strive for excellence, you’ll help them tap into their own potential and achieve a state of flow that will keep them motivated and engaged in their work.

So the next time you’re feeling unmotivated, try shifting your focus from external rewards and instead tap into your own desire for excellence.

Lesson 3: Let people choose their own schedule, priorities, and teammates.

Feeling like a cog in the corporate machine, with little say in the direction of one’s work, can be exhausting. However, it’s a common sentiment, and studies have shown that people are more motivated when they have control over their actions and a sense of autonomy. To improve employee morale and productivity, companies should prioritize employee autonomy and allow them to have a say in the direction of their work.

Take Zappos, for example. This company has taken a unique approach to call centers by allowing employees to work remotely without interference from managers. By giving employees control over their work environment, Zappos has achieved high levels of employee engagement and retention. Imagine being able to run your meetings in a way that works best for you, without someone micromanaging your every move. That’s the kind of autonomy that can lead to increased job satisfaction and longer employee retention.

Google is another company that values employee autonomy. The company sets aside 20% of employees’ time for them to work on innovative projects of their choosing. This approach has led to some of Google’s most successful products, such as Google News and Gmail. When employees are given the freedom to explore their passions, they become more invested in their work and can create groundbreaking innovations.

Meddius, Inc. has also found success by promoting employee autonomy. The company has eliminated regular office hours, allowing employees to work at their own pace. This flexibility has led to a more positive work-life balance for employees, who are able to attend their children’s sporting events and performances. By prioritizing their employees’ personal lives, Meddius has increased morale and retention.

Whole Foods and W. L. Gore & Associates take employee autonomy a step further by allowing employees to have a say in the hiring process and requiring team leaders to secure their employees’ loyalty. By involving employees in these important decisions, the companies create a sense of ownership and investment in the company’s success.

Giving employees control over their schedules and work environment can lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and retention. It’s time for companies to start valuing employee autonomy as a means of creating a more engaged and invested workforce. So speak up, take control, and show your company what you’re capable of when you’re given the freedom to succeed.

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Lesson 4: Meaning should be infused into work.

Let’s face it, we all want to feel motivated and fulfilled in our work. But what truly drives us to achieve greatness? According to a study by psychologists at the College of Rochester, it all comes down to finding meaning in what we do.

It turns out that individuals who are motivated solely by financial gain, like becoming rich and famous, may actually be setting themselves up for disappointment and anxiety. On the other hand, those who seek self-improvement and the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world tend to have a more fulfilling and satisfying experience.

So, how can we apply this insight to our personal and professional lives? For starters, we can strive to find meaning in our work by identifying ways that we can make a difference in the lives of others. Whether it’s through volunteering our time, supporting charitable causes, or simply taking the time to connect with our colleagues and clients, every effort counts.

In fact, research has shown that companies that invest in charitable causes and encourage employee outreach tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement. Similarly, doctors who are given the opportunity to interact with patients and provide outreach services report feeling less exhausted and more fulfilled in their work.

So, the next time you’re feeling stuck or uninspired in your work, take a step back and ask yourself: how can I make a meaningful impact today? Whether it’s through a small act of kindness or a larger philanthropic initiative, the key is to find purpose in what you do and let that be your driving force.


1. It exposes the myths about motivation

Pink debunks many long-held myths about what we believe to be motivating, but actually turn out to be dreadfully counter-productive. He highlights the failures of companies like Arthur Anderson, Enron, and Wall Street and demonstrates how a hyper-focus on performance results (extrinsic motivators) can have disastrous consequences in the long run.

Pink’s research shows that once we’ve met some basic survival needs, we’re ultimately leading unsatisfying lives unless we’re working for something bigger than what’s immediately in front of us. By tapping into that greater good, we unlock a lot more contribution, engagement, and ultimately rewards of a virtuous cycle.

2. It provides a blueprint for creating a motivating work environment

Pink doesn’t just expose what really motivates us, he also provides a blueprint for how to create an environment for continual self-motivation where the means and the ends are somewhat circular: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

All three are components of what really motivates us, but all three are also the means by which to help us be, do, and have a fulfilling work and life. Pink’s practice tools and guides at the end of the book help to take his investigation and put it into the workplace, providing practical strategies for individuals and organizations to tap into their intrinsic motivations.

3. It challenges us to rethink our approach to work

Pink’s book challenges the traditional approach to work and encourages us to rethink our approach to motivation. He argues that there’s something else, bigger than the material, that we need to focus on, and that by focusing on intrinsic motivators, we can create a more positive and fulfilling work environment.

Pink’s book is an important read for anyone who wants to understand what really motivates us and how we can create a better workplace for ourselves and others.

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1. Lack of depth

While Pink does a good job of introducing readers to the emerging area of studies in psychology, behavioral economics, and management, the author’s lack of depth becomes apparent early on. Pink borrows ideas from a handful of psychologists, most notably Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, without adding much original research to the conversation. As a result, the book lacks the depth and originality of other books in this field.

2. Lack of scientific background

Pink’s book is based on the works of Deci and Csikszentmihalyi, both fairly old, and some anecdotal evidence, like the 20%-rule at Google (which was reportedly discontinued as of 2014). While there is a list of recommended books at the end, it mostly consists of popular titles, not original research. I expected more sources, and more recent ones.

3. Overemphasis on intrinsic motivation

Pink takes a stance similar to “Flow”, presenting intrinsic motivation as something entirely separate from delayed extrinsic motivation, and often sounding like it’s a good thing. However, this only seems to apply to people whose base pay is comfortable. It raises the question of whether intrinsic rewards don’t apply to people making minimum wage or if work for work’s sake only applies to white-collar workers or hobbyists.


Drive by Daniel Pink is an engaging and thought-provoking book that challenges traditional views of motivation. While there are some weaknesses to the book, it presents a compelling argument for a new way of thinking about what drives us.

If you are interested in making a positive impact on your life and the lives of those around you, I highly recommend reading this book. And when you do, consider how you can implement the principles of autonomy, mastery, and purpose in your own work and in the workplace.

Remember, when employees are truly invested in their work, they are most productive. So, check-in with yourself, emphasize individual efforts, and give tasks that push employees to their limits. By doing so, you can help your colleagues achieve the elusive flow state and unlock their full potential.

About The Author

Daniel Pink is a successful author whose studies cover linguistics and law. His book A Whole New Mind is a bestseller, as well as his other books To Sell is Human, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, and Free Agent Nation, which all made it to the New York Times bestseller list. From 1995 to 1997, he worked as vice president Al Gore’s main speechwriter.

Buy The Book: Drive

If you want to buy the book Drive, you can get it from the following links:

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