Context Book: Drive

Drive By Daniel Pink (Book Summary And Discussion On Tapping Into The Power Of Your Intrinsic Motivation )

What motivates us?

Many of us probably think it is the carrot and stick approach, where either you are rewarded, or there are consequences. Daniel Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, has another theory. Pink’s motivational theory is made of three elements autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Let’s define these elements:

autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives

mastery – the urge to get better or develop skills

and purpose – the need to do what we do for reasons bigger than ourselves (TED Summaries, 2014)

Pink discusses different types of behaviors Type I and Type X. Type X “is fueled more by extrinsic desires than intrinsic ones” this behavior cares more about the external rewards (Pink, 2009, p. 77). Type I “is fueled by intrinsic desires” this behavior tends to care more about the inherent satisfaction of the activity (Pink, 2009, p. 77).

Pink’s motivational theory can be used in libraries to motivate library staff.


Pink’s four T’s of autonomy include task, time, technique, and team (Pink, 2009, pp. 86-108). Many of us don’t like to be told what to do. You spend your whole childhood listening to your parents, your teachers, your caregivers. Even as an adult, there are rules to follow, including being told what to do by your boss. However, once I know my bosses’ expectations, I like to work how I want to work. I want to choose which project needs my attention, understanding there are deadlines. I want to be complete the tasks the way I want to with my choice of teammates if possible. I feel that having some freedom actually does motivate me. I know my responsibilities and will get the job done, my way.


Mastery speaks for itself. We want to be better at what we do, and we keep trying until we become better; being better is motivation. Pink’s three laws of mastery include mastery is a mindset, mastery is a pain, and mastery is an asymptote. While you may never fully master the skill, you have to want to get better. No matter what your job is in the library, you should try to become better—any skill that you have you should want to improve.


Last but not least, the library’s purpose is to serve the community, to provide a service to the community. The work we do in the library and for the community should be enough to motivate us.

Pink’s elements of autonomy, mastery, and purpose look at motivation in a new way, not the traditional carrot and stick approach.


Goff-Dupont, S. (2019, October 3). 5 questions about motivation with Daniel Pink. Worklife. Retrieved September 13, 2021, from

Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive : the surprising truth about what motivates us. Riverhead Books.

TED Summaries. (2014, June 5). Dan pink: The puzzle of motivation. TED Summaries. Retrieved September 11, 2021, from

Two simple questions that can change your life. Daniel H. Pink | The official site of author Daniel Pink. (2013, July 15). Retrieved September 15, 2021, from

Motivation - Pink (Three Elements of Intrinsic Motivation) | tutor2u

One Response

  1. Angelina,

    There are a lot of theories on motivation. I think this one by Pink is insightful. We all have a mixture of autonomy, purpose, and mastery in our motivations! I will think about these three elements, the next time I must analyze my motivation.

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