Drive Free

Drive Book Summary

Many people have ingrained the idea of rewards and punishments. It is a simple system where good actions lead to rewards and bad actions lead to punishments.

This system has been around for quite a while now. Is it still effective in modern times? Or has it become an outdated concept? 

Rewards and Punishments: An Outdated Concept

To achieve goals, it is important to understand why people behave the way they do. Basic survival instincts like the need for food, water, and shelter drive us, humans. 

We also seek rewards and avoid punishments. This brought about the “carrots and sticks” model in management. Reward desired behavior, and punish unwanted behavior. 

This model was effective during industrialization. For instance, increasing pay per product made would enhance productivity. Such external rewards are beneficial for routine tasks. 

In today’s information economy, this model is less efficient. Modern work demands creativity, collaboration, and long-term thinking.

Research shows that external rewards can impact these aspects: 

  • They can diminish creativity and focus.
  • They can lead to cheating and exploitation.
  • They can lower intrinsic motivation.
  • They are temporary; remove them and the behavior stops.

Some people choose jobs they like, even if they pay less. Money is not the main reason. It does not justify the efforts of unpaid volunteers on platforms like Wikipedia. 

So, a new model of human motivation is necessary.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the internal desire for satisfaction rather than external rewards. Imagine a child playing for fun and curiosity, without expecting any money. 

This kind of motivation helps adults work better and lasts longer than rewards. 

This motivation has three elements: 

  • Autonomy: Freedom in actions and self-drive
  • Mastery: People want to improve at things and want to receive recognition for their skills.
  • Purpose: Align work with a meaningful cause, usually relating to helping others.


  • It has four primary aspects:
    • Task selection: freedom to choose assignments
    • Time management: freedom to decide on work schedule
    • Technique selection: freedom to determine how to complete tasks
    • Team selection: freedom to pick team members
  • Different individuals prefer different combinations of these aspects.
  • Management tip: Trust individuals and be less controlling.


  • People want to enhance their skills and gain recognition.
  • To speed up skill improvement, use deliberate practice:
    • Engage in challenging yet achievable tasks
    • Set personal objectives
    • Get prompt feedback for improvement
    • Maintain consistent practice
  • Management tip: install deliberate practice principles at work.
  • Pursuing mastery is challenging but worth it.


  • Understanding the significance of work is motivating.
  • A common motivating purpose is helping others.
  • Strategies to encourage purpose at work:
    • Clarify the reasons behind tasks.
    • Establish company values rooted in deeper ideals.
    • Allow time for impactful projects.

Old concept fading
Intrinsic drive blooms brightly
Purpose guides us now


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