The three intrinsic motivators for creatives

After about seven months of maternity time last year, I was grateful to start up work again. Many were surprised that I desired to break up my day and actually go to my office, when the nature of graphic design allows me to work on my laptop in any place.

Why go to work if you don’t have to ? When no one is watching ?

A new book called Drive by Dan Pink highlights three intrinsic – rather than external – motivators: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Further, external “carrots” do not at all stimulate the creative thinker to go forward.

The most successful contemporary businesses understand this mentality and have created atmospheres that encourage new thinking by creative-oriented people. Google comes to mind, with its playground-like offices, 20% free time and vast resources available to those who work there. Not surprisingly, the book highlights case studies from this very company.

Perhaps the economic crisis and a decline in the ability to accumulate have refocused our intentions. Books like the Four Hour Work Week provide blueprints on how to structure your time so that your life is not dominated by work. Perhaps more people are identifying as creative thinkers.

What’s clear is that external motivators like “lotsamoney” or a new boat cannot sustain long term creative activity, no matter how intense the desire.


A great synopsis of this book and some other studies on the same subject

The Surprising Science of Motivation” on Ted