Intrinsic Motivation Is How Unpaid Work Can Beat Any Job

- Motivation

by Vasco Duarte

Every now and then, my ghostwriter works in the kitchen of a small restaurant. Working as a cook is quite different from writing texts. Instead of drinking coffee at the hip, local coffee place while flirting with the waitress, he now has to sweat his ass off until midnight while the chef yells at him as he ruins a sauce. Okay, that’s not entirely true, the chef never yells. Not at him anyway, even though he did ruin the sauce.
Oh, he doesn’t get paid to do it.

A friend of mine just started her own company. And although my friend was very busy and needed the help, she couldn’t afford to hire people yet. But now she has Nicky working for her, a smart girl who recently finished university. How? In Holland where she lives there’s a new program called ‘startersbeurs’, a sort of scholarship for young people who just finished university. Nicky only gets a relatively small compensation for working four days a week. Truth to be told, she’d probably make more working at the local, hip coffee place.

Not only is Nicky doing great, she has a great time as well.

So why are those two – and there are a lot of people like them – doing that? Working for nothing or very little? And why do they have such a great time?

For both of them money isn’t a problem yet, they’ve got their basic expenses covered. And what they do appeals to their intrinsic motivation. For Nicky mastery and curiosity are very important, things she would probably miss working at the local coffee place. Goal scores relatively high as well; she now gains useful experience she’ll need later on in her career.

For my ghostwriter freedom and mastery are important. He clearly needs the freedom to do things he wants, like professional cooking. And he wants to become better at the things he loves doing. Like cooking. His girlfriend agrees.

So what’s the lesson learned? If you are a manager, don’t try to tempt your people with money. Find out what their intrinsic motivators are and trigger those. If someone has freedom as a huge motivator, don’t think bonus, but give her the freedom to choose her own working hours for instance. If you are a creative worker, make sure you know out what your intrinsic motivators are and try to find work that motivate you. If curiosity or mastery works for you, you might be very motivated to set up a Business Guild for instance.

So tell me, what is it that motivates you?

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