7 “Must Reads” by Daniel Pink

I became a “die-hard” Daniel Pink fan a few years ago after reading “Drive“. Pink suggests that creative workers are at their most productive when they are intrinsically motivated. When it is made clear how each individual’s contribution is for the performance of the whole, each person feels their actions to be meaningful, and hence they become more committed. Rewards and sanctions are effective only short-term.

The following is from Ted Talks and author, Thu-Huong Ha.

In 1962, Princeton psychologist Sam Glucksberg performed an experiment based on the classic candle problem test. He presented two groups with the same task, but with different rewards: One would receive monetary rewards based on speed, while the other was told only to complete the task as quickly as possible. The results were counterintuitive. The latter group performed the task on average three and a half times faster than the first. Why?

As career analyst Dan Pink (Watch: The puzzle of motivation) has learned, traditional motivators like money can be far less effective than intrinsic motivators like autonomy, mastery and purpose. Indeed, productivity itself is a mystery we still struggle to unravel. Below, find seven must-reads (and a playlist) that look closely at how work works, provided by Pink for his TED Talk.

1. The Talent Code
Daniel Coyle
Arrow Books, 2010

“A savvy and snappy compilation of some of the best research on talent. I’ve given away more than a dozen copies of this one — including to my own kids.”

2. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008

“The classic book that introduced the idea of ‘flow’ — those delicious moments when the challenge we face is so exquisitely matched to our capabilities that we lose our sense of time, even our sense of self.”

3. Why We Do What We Do
Edward L. Deci and Richard Flaste
Penguin Books, 1996

“Edward L. Deci is a legend in the study of motivation, and this 1996 book offers a nice early introduction to his work.”

4. Mindset
Carol Dweck
Ballantine Books, 2007

“One of the most important books a parent can read. Seriously. Get it now.”

5. The Sports Gene
David Epstein
Current Trade, 2014

“A fascinating book that shows that in some pursuits, practice, practice, practice is more effective when you’ve got the right genes, genes, genes.”

6. The War of Art
Steven Pressfield
Black Irish Entertainment, 2012

“An essential read on overcoming resistance in the quest for mastery.”

7. Readings on self-determination theory

“Much of the work I write about in my book Drive comes out of the University of Rochester. You can find a great selection of academic papers on self-determination theory online.”

Authentic Change and Perseverance

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

-Calvin Coolidge

Are you looking for excellence in all facets of your school environment? Before you start any kind of short or long term game change, put your running shoes on and persevere. You cannot sprint and make lasting, valuable, internal change happen! It’s like running a marathon, so be prepared for a long, strenuous journey before feeling the satisfaction of finishing the race.

Having perseverance means starting from the beginning and collaborating with your colleagues. We cannot think about a building or district change as instantly moving individuals a thousand feet forward but, rather, about pushing a thousand people forward one foot at a time.

You can imagine persistence in change as waging a ground game instead of an air game in football. While an air game (lots of passing the ball) is a fairly quick and safe way to attack an opponent, it is rarely enough to defeat them. The consistent ground attack wins more games. This analogy implies that you need to invest time, manpower and resources to “conquer” (or move) each opponent.

Lasting change is rarely a singular, transformational event, but rather something simple, yet consistent, taking place over time. Change is not a singular decision; it’s a state of mind. It’s the simple decisions we make daily to be better. It’s a chain of decisions, defined as continuous improvement.

Authentic change is more than experiencing an awakening or spark of inspiration. Authentic change is action taken to move one’s heart forward. Authentic change requires consistency. Authentic change is a day-to-day struggle. Authentic change perseveres.