Im sure all of you experienced the opportunity of receiving a reward from your parents when you cleaned your room or even when you helped with several task in your house. Of course your parents knew that you will always perform better when there is something in return. I remember when I was 12 years old, my family lived in a farm with a lot of grass to cut, therefore my father used to trick me by telling me that every time I clean the backyard he will reward me with the “extravagant amount” of $20. At that time, yes, for me was a lot of money but when I got older I noticed that the amount of money wasn’t equal to the amount of job that I was asked to do. That’s when I started to work without any motivation and started leaving areas unattended. Due to my lack of motivation, my dad decided to increase the reward and right away I started being the hard worker kid that I used to be.
The weird part is that it wasn’t always the same. It seems that the incentive didn’t work as well when he asked me to help him with his job. Why a 12 years old boy would like to spend his Sundays in a office working with task that require the use of his brain? Of course most of the kids believe that the only moment they should use it is at school. Yes! I know that most of you are saying right now: “That wasn’t me, I always wanted to read books and study math 24/7”, but not me, I just wanted to play Mario Bros. in my Nintendo and nothing else.
This experience that I had bring us to what Dan Pink was referring to in his animated video: The Surprising Truth About What Motivate US. How come I didn’t feel motivated by the amount of money or the other gifts that I was going to get just by using my brain? well, Dan Pink explained it very well in his animated video. He said that people work harder to get a job done when it requires mechanical skills or tasks that has an specific result no matter the way you do it. If you are going to be rewarded for $50 for each time you clean your parents house, it doesn’t matter if one day you start with the second floor and then the first floor or if you decided to start with the bedroom instead of the kitchen the result will always be same, which is a clean house. However, if your parents decided to increase those incentives and to receive them you were asked to rearrange the furniture in the living room that has almost no space available, to accommodate another couch. Usually, a 12 year boy/girl would say: “Dad we are good like this, forget about the couch”, because we don’t want to waste time in a task that we don’t know if we are going to be able to accomplish it or not. Tell them to paint a house and they will do it because they know the beginning and the end of that task, but asking them to do something that has no clear end might be too risky and they will decide not to do it or give a poor performance. In other words, performance in mechanical task is directly proportional to the incentive, but is not the same relationship for the task using our brain.
The myth of giving to receive proves that no matter the incentive, the person will react different in each situation. Is not a matter of money or a matter of getting something that we need, Dan Pink couldn’t it say it better, is a matter of the challenges we pursue that will help us make a contribution while we master different abilities.
I don’t know about any of you but for me is kind of weird that after the first blog post Im not even thinking about the grade that Im going to get by creating a blog post every week. Ever since I saw that there is a “Hot Topic” section every week, my mind tells me that I need to find a way to challenge myself by using my knowledge and creativity at my best if I want to get that incentive. It seems to me that the truth about what motivate us relies on the idea of finding something that will challenge us in our own environment without believing that we are risking something if we don’t accomplish it.