MOTIVATION. A book, a couple of stories, and a few questions.

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

When I started reading this book, I didn’t think I would write about it. It is very business and management focused, but I found it fascinating. Why? Because it explains exactly how motivation works, and the science behind it. And you all know how much I love science 🙂

I’ll get into that in a bit. First let me tell you a story.

At the end of the book, the author shares 20 questions to encourage conversations about motivation. Because, as he writes:

“That’s how the world changes, conversation by conversation.”

daniel h. pink

I got really inspired by this. So I’m going to answer one of them here:

How has Motivation 2.0 affected your experiences at school, at work, or in family life? If Motivation 3.0 had been the prevailing ethic when you were young, how would your experiences have differed?

Ok, a little bit of context. He starts by comparing motivation to an operating system that needs an upgrade. That is Motivation 2.0, based on “if-then” rewards or “carrots- and-sticks”, is the outdated version. The upgrade is Motivation 3.0, which is based on 3 factors: autonomy, mastery & purpose. More on these soon.

Back to the question. Once I read it, I immediately thought about what I liked the most when I was a teenager. Music. I used to play the guitar all day long after school. I’d play the same song over and over until I got it right. I was going to an academy once a week and then practicing every day.

At the end of high school, when it was time to decide what to “do with the rest of my life” and apply for university, I didn’t think about music. I don’t really know why. And after taking psychometric tests and a couple of conversations with the school psychologist, I went for Advertising.

University was another story. A different schedule, new friends, and homework that, unlike at school, I chose to do. Eventually, I got really busy and “forgot” about the guitar. After graduating and starting work in advertising, life went on. And at some point, I began to regret having quit something I used to love so much.

So, how motivation 2.0 affected me in this situation?

Well, I guess I just didn’t see music as a way of living, and because I had an “if-then” mindset at that time, I assumed that if I didn’t go to university for a career that would allow me to get a “good job”, I wouldn’t have been able to have the life I wanted. Although I didn’t really know what I wanted, I was only 17 years old.

And maybe, if I knew that I could just do it (autonomy – and believe), not that anybody told me what to study but I think that as we grow up we learn “to follow the script”; if I had thought that if I kept playing and learning I would stand out (mastery); and that I had a mission through music in this world (purpose), I would’ve considered a career as a musician.

That answers the question, but really, I don’t have any complaints at all about how my life went from there. By now, I’ve realised what my mission is and everything I do now fulfills a purpose. Plus, I went back to playing the guitar a few years ago 🙂 and I really enjoy it as a hobby.

my and my travel guitar

Now, I’d love to go into what the book says, so you can consider why or how to get motivated in life. Are you still with me?… Let’s do this!

The 3 essential factors of motivation 3.0

As I mentioned, Pink introduces 3 factors that are essential to motivation. All of them are human nature, and this has been backed by extensive research for quite a few years already.

Here’s what he calls the Cocktail Party Summary:

When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: (1) Autonomy the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

daniel h. pink

Not only in business. We have learnt to reward ourselves with external motivators that if not aligned with our internal motivators, simply won’t work. 

Let’s dive in.

From the book:

Human beings have a biological drive that includes hunger, thirst, and sex. We also have another long-recognized drive: to respond to rewards and punishments in our environment. But in the middle of the twentieth century, a few scientists began discovering that humans also have a third drive, what some call intrinsic motivation.

Daniel h. Pink

And that third drive is one of these elements, or the 3 of them, or a combination of 2:

1. Autonomy

Our default setting is to be autonomous and self-directed. 

People need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it).

daniel h. Pink

In my coaching program, this is often one of the things we discuss. Some people come with the expectation that I will tell them what to do. I won’t. We work together so you can discover what you need to do and how. So it works for you. What works for me might not work for you in the same way. This is the beauty of self-awareness.

2. Mastery 

While Motivation 2.0 required compliance, Motivation 3.0 demands engagement. Only engagement can produce mastery becoming better at something that matters.

How many times did you fall when you were learning how to walk?… of course you don’t remember. But we all have seen babies at that stage, they don’t quit. They keep trying and the feeling of accomplishment keeps them going. Until they master it and start running.

Mastery is a mindset: It requires the capacity to see your abilities not as finite, but as infinitely improvable. 

Daniel h. pink

We are our own experiment. Only last week, I received this message from three different sources. And it makes total sense. If we don’t know what we’re capable of, let’s just try and repeat. Strive for improvement, not for the end goal. See what happens.

Mastery is a pain: It demands effort, grit, and deliberate practice.

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Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Sounds boring? It is the only way.

I could write a whole book about this. Habits are what we repeat; to improve at anything we need to repeat. To change a behaviour, we need to repeat. To learn, we need to repeat. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

And mastery is an asymptote: It’s impossible to fully realize, which makes it simultaneously frustrating and alluring.

daniel h. pink

This might be bad news for you. I find it fascinating, and it is something I’m still learning in my journey as an entrepreneur, and through my own self-awareness. Perfection doesn’t exist.

Or at least perfection as we imagine it. Nature is perfect and the human body is perfect too, 100%. BUT to achieve perfection in something we do is impossible. However, this is not a reason to quit. It is actually THE reason to keep going. Because we don’t know what we’re capable of, until we’ve tried enough times.

3. Purpose 

Humans, by their nature, seek purpose, a cause greater and more enduring than themselves.

daniel h. pink

Here comes the fun. Purpose? Passion?

When I started looking for a job in the UK, I read a lot and followed YouTube channels about job seeking, and ALL of them talked about passion… I used to think: I don’t have a passion, what I need is a job.

And while paying rent out of savings in London, this was only logical. I have no idea what that meant and really, at that time, and the funny thing is, as I just realised as I write these lines, as soon as I got a job, I created the first version of this blog. It was about happiness.

I landed that job in Digital Marketing, and I had another two other positions in digital after that. Who would’ve thought I’d end up working on my own happiness and the wellbeing of others?

I’m not saying everyone has to live off their passion. But yes, everyone should be doing something that fulfills their purpose in life.

And it was actually the opportunities I had in my last job, what allowed me to fully discover my passion and take the leap to make it my work. While working as a project manager I created, along with a team, a wellbeing newsletter; I gave talks about habits and healthy lifestyle, and I led the women group in my office.

In the book, Daniel H. Pink covers how companies and managers can do this for their employees, so they stay motivated at work. Because not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. And I believe that if I wanted to pursue my coaching and speaker career inside that company or a similar one, I could have done it.

Lastly, and before I leave you with another couple of the great conversation starters, I’d love to share something else from the book. So we can teach our kids how to cultivate motivation:


In education systems tilted toward standardized tests, grades, and if-then rewards, students often have no idea why they’re doing what they’re doing. Turn that around by helping them glimpse the big picture. 

Whatever they’re studying, be sure they can answer these questions: 

  • Why am I learning this? 
  • How is it relevant to the world I live in now? 

Then get out of the classroom and apply what they’re studying. If they’re learning Spanish, take them to an office, a store, or a community center where they can actually speak the language. If they’re studying geometry, have them draw up architectural plans for an addition to your school or home. If they’re taking history, ask them to apply what they’ve learned to an event in the news. Think of it as the fourth R: reading, writing, arithmetic . . . and relevance.

I find this really interesting because what it does is to help children to stay curious (something that is already natural in them) and to seek purpose from the very beginning of their lives.

I hope you liked this post, and have a better idea of how we humans get and stay motivated. I invite you to answer the question I did above, and these other two suggested by the author:

  • Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to master that you’ve avoided for reasons like I’m too old or I’ll never be good at that or It would be a waste of time? What are the barriers to giving it a try? How can you remove those barriers?
  • What are the things that truly motivate you? Now think about the last week. How many of those 168 hours were devoted to these things? Can you do better?

If you’d like to discuss or find it too hard, email me here.

Or book a 30-min call with me using this link:

I’d love to chat.


Author: Carolina

I used to be a Digital Project Manager with a passion for healthy food and fitness. Now I’m a full-time healthy lifestyle advocate, on a mission to spread the word about the best medicine: healthy life habits. I am a certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach, Les Mills BODYPUMP™ Instructor, and PADI Scuba Diver; I am a sociable and positive individual, I speak three languages and this has allowed me to get to know and understand several cultures. I love learning, and I have achieved most of what I aimed in life. I value justice, empowerment, friendships and a sense of community. I don’t like enclosure, artificial things, nor melon. I enjoy life, and I take care of the planet.

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