Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink Book Summary

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink | Free Book Summary

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

This book examines the science of motivation and argues that the traditional carrot-and-stick approach to motivating people is not as effective as it’s often assumed. Instead, people are motivated by three innate needs: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

The author explains that autonomy is the desire to direct our own lives; mastery is the urge to get better at something that matters; and purpose is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. When these needs are met, people are more likely to be engaged and productive at work.

Subscribe to Miniwise Newsletter (Free!)

Miniwise newsletter brings you one great bite-sized idea every day, curated from world's best non-fiction books, articles, podcasts..and more. An entire new world in just 5 minutes!


3 Types Of Motivation

  • Motivation 1.0: The survival instinct: In this situation, the basic necessities that keep us alive (food, water, and shelter) govern our actions.
  • Motivation 2.0: The Stick and the Carrot: This system assumes workers will have no desire to work unless they are offered an extrinsic reward (this can mean a punishment too).
  • Motivation 3.0: Intrinsic reward: The internal satisfaction we feel from accomplishing something is far more rewarding than stick and carrot motivation.

External Rewards

Rewards usually offer a short-term boost. But the effect wears off, and the negative consequences remain: they reduce a person’s longer-term motivation to continue the project.Free book, podcast summaries

When money is used as an external reward for some activity, the subjects lose intrinsic interest in the activity.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivators (a raise, a promotion, or a bonus) can be effective, but only in the short term. If the motivator is taken away, the behavior stops.

Intrinsic motivation. It is the desire to do something for the sake of internal fulfillment. It’s the joy we get from accomplishing something useful, the satisfaction of a job well done, a sense of purpose, pride, and belonging.

Carrots and Sticks: The Seven Deadly Flaws

  1. They can extinguish intrinsic motivation.
  2. They can diminish performance.
  3. They can crush creativity.
  4. They can crowd out good behavior.
  5. They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior.
  6. They can become addictive.
  7. They can foster short-term thinking.

The carrot and stick method does work, but it was created for a very different era and totally different circumstances.

The 3 Components of Intrinsic Motivation

  1. Autonomy: this is the desire to direct our own lives.
  2. Mastery: this is the impulse to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose: this is the longing to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

The Two Types Of People: Type X And Type I

Type X (extrinsic): They are driven by external factors such as fame, status, money, etc. They can often be highly successful but are also troubled by an insatiable appetite for more.

Type I (intrinsic): Their motivation comes from within—to accomplish something meaningful. Success is measured by the task itself, not by a reward. In the long run, Type Is usually outperform Type Xs.


It means having a choice in what you do and being self-driven.

People are naturally wired to be self-driven. When they have the freedom to pick what they work on (tasks), when they work on it (time), how they attain it (technique), and who they work with (team), they perform much better due to the sense of autonomy.


The assumption of Mastery is that people wish to get better at what they do as long as they care about it.

  • Engagement in the task one is pursuing is key to mastery.
  • To be engaged, you need to reach the state of flow, where goals are clear and feedback is immediate.
  • For flow, the challenge of a task must be just slightly above your level of competence.
  • Set “learning goals” instead of “performance goals.”

Purpose: Being Part Of Something Bigger

Purpose leverages the human desire to be part of something bigger .

We reach purpose while:

  • Doing something that matters
  • Doing it well
  • Doing it in the service of a cause larger than ourselves.

Get the book!

Sign Up for nextbigwhat newsletter

The smartest newsletter, partly written by AI.

Download, the short news app for busy professionals