I’m reading (actually listening to — I love audio books for driving and walks) Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink. Pink asserts that everything we know about motivation is wrong. What passes at the typical workplace, or school environment for “motivation” does more harm to problem solving, creativity, productivity, enjoyment and mastery than good. He covers study after study showing how typical carrot-and-stick rewards and punishments, actually reduce productivity and engagement rather than increase it. He delineates between ‘extrinsic motivation’, doing something for a reward or avoidance of punishment, and ‘intrinsic motivation’, doing something out of curiosity, joy, and progress towards mastery. He outlines the conditions for motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose. This book has been richly thought provoking — I bought it to better understand how to motivate my kids, but quickly gained flashes of insight into my work life and how to improve it.
I highly recommend Seth Godin’s new book: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
The book challenges us to not just settle for “another cog in the wheel” jobs — but to share our ’emotional labor’, create art, and ‘give gifts’. I just finished reading it, and think its very relevant to vfx artists. The book caused me to ‘quit’ my old manager at the day job. I just started in a new position with a group and manager that ‘gets it’, and will better appreciate my work. The book is all about how to become indispensable in an age of outsourcing, shrinking revenues, and mass market media.