Concepts of Motivation
Motivation is a word commonly found in any dictionary picked up. Individuals and organizations around the world can most likely relay the definition, but observations have shown that not everyone really understands the meaning behind motivation or what it means to each person. Most organizations are still behind and have yet to catch up to the new work of behavioral scientists and what research they have done to show the dynamic view of human motivation (Pink, 2009). Daniel H. Pink does an exceptional job exploring what drives people and breaks down how motivation drives them throughout their daily lives. He shows readers how autonomy, mastery, and purpose are three basic human needs and that those needs are how we get motivated.
Daniel explained the first basic human need, and one of the most important of the three is autonomy. When people see the word autonomy they should think of ownership. People want ownership in how they do something. They want autonomy. It means acting with choice, which means being both autonomous and happily interdependent with others (Pink, 2009).
Professors Deci and Ryan worked together and fashioned what they call Self-Determination Theory (SDT). This theory relies on universal needs, autonomy being one of those, and when those needs are met, one can be motivated. Therefore, one can achieve much more and be more successful in what they are perusing. Dozens of experimental studies have supported the SDT proposal that both autonomy and competence are necessary conditions for the maintenance of intrinsic motivation (Ryan, 2009). One of the studies showed results demonstrating that children assigned to autonomy supportive teachers relative to those assigned to controlling teachers, reported increased intrinsic motivation, perceived competence, and self-esteem over time (Ryan, 2009).
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Mastery, being the second basic human need is the desire to get better and better at something that matters (Pink, 2009). If people do the same thing every day it makes sense to have the urgency to do better and to keep getting better. Daniel stated that mastery is an asymptote. Approaching mastery can seem easy enough because people try and work hard to get close to mastery, really close, but they can never touch it (Pink, 2009). When it comes to the work place and wanting to thrive and move up, hearing that mastery can never be completely reached might make someone doubtful about himself or herself. Questions of why may appear. Why continue to work hard for something that may never be reached, why even waste my time; but just tell those people, why not! Asymptote might be a hard concept for some to grasp but losing is not an option when there is nothing but continuous gain of success.
Pressure from work and daily life can tend to wear people down. The most common likelihood of that cause is the lack of flow. Flow is a proposed notion by psychologist Csikszentmihalyi. This concept is concentration and full involvement, as well as enjoying the process and exceling. Flow is most often the end product of the process of skills, development, and mastery, in other words, it has to be earned (Electic Moose, 2014). Flow is essential to mastery, but flow does not guarantee mastery (Pink, 2009). Do not be intimidated by the concept of mastery and how it may never be touchable. The desire to do better will always be there so continue to do better and earn a life with flow. Once the realization that boundaries between work and play are artificial, the process of taking matters in hand and beginning the difficult task of making life more livable will occur (Pink, 2009).
Autonomy and mastery are of the up most importance and essential to the basic human needs. There will still need to be a third to balance the two out, Purpose. People universally seek purpose; it is in everyone’s nature to seek purpose (Pink, 2009). It seems clear that people throughout the world would live completely different lives if they felt no purpose in the world or just their daily lives. Without purpose, people might start to lose their way and become unmotivated. Being a parent comes with a purpose, as well as being an employee comes with purpose. Purpose is what gets people through those rough days and months. This whole paragraph could really be stated with one good sentence.
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When it comes to management their purpose is to serve the greater good by brining people and resources together to create value that no individual can create alone (Pink 2009). Purpose can be found in any position because it has to do with how someone approaches the job, not the specific nature of the job (Loehr, 2015). Working as a team serves as a purpose in the work place. Grasping the purpose of the work place may not always be easy, but just search harder or ask for it. The key is giving people a sense of purpose outside monetary gain and aligning employee performance goals to company values will help them feel that their daily work is contributing to a broader purpose (Griffiths).
When a person is pulled out of a controlled environment or work place and is put into an uncontrolled environment, he or she will almost always struggle every time. Their purpose has been taken from underneath them. Feelings of doubt and dissatisfaction will arise, and they might even feel unmotivated. It will then be in the manager’s’ best interest, or whoever is in charge, to help that person adjust and find their new purpose in that new setting. It should also be a manager’s duty to focus more on the why of doing things instead of the how. When everyone obsesses over how to do something they lose sight and do not reach their maximum potential. This is because people tend to not understand why they are doing what they are made to do. If a business or organization wants to succeed, their employees need to feel like they have a purpose in being there. In order for those employees to be most successful they must also understand why they are doing what they are made to do.
Motivation is locked in everyone’s brain, everyone knows what it means to be motivated and hopefully soon everyone will understand the purpose of being motivated and how to become and stay motivated. Daniel showed his readers how autonomy, mastery, and purpose are three basic human needs and that those needs are how we get motivated. Businesses, organizations, and individuals might still be behind in the new behavioral aspect of motivation, but it is studies and books like Daniels who give insight, which will help with the progression and moving it along faster. Once everyone is caught up, there shall be nothing but success, growth, and fulfillment. That day where everyone around the world grasps the concept may never happen, it may be asymptote; but everyone can still try to reach it. The more people who catch up and understand what everything about motivation, the more people who will be satisfied and happy with their lives.
- Electic Moose. (2014, June 16). How to not be miserabke: Challenge, mastery, and flow as pancacea… Retrieved January 17, 2017, from http://www.eclectic-consult.com/mooseblog/2014/06/16/how-not-to-be-miserable-challenge-mastery-and-flow-as-panacea/
- Griffiths, R. (n.d.). Why is purpose important in the workplace? The Association for Business Psychology . Retrieved ?
- Loehr, A. (2015, February 15). The Future of Work: Creating Purpose-Driven Organizations [Web blog post]. The Blog . Huffingtion Post.
- Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
- Ryan, C. P. (2009, June 30). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom. Retrieved January 16, 2017, from Sage Publications : Theory and Research in Education, 7(2), 133-144. doi:10.1177/1477878509104318
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