February 19, 2021
February 19, 2021



Discussion 2: Shared Practice: Personal Motivation and Purpose

Steven Levitt, a father of four and co-author of the book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005), had a small problem. When his youngest daughter was born, his middle daughter’s toilet training regressed. Levitt decided to use an incentive to reward his daughter by giving her one piece of candy every time she successfully used the toilet. In first week, his daughter figured out how to use the toilet just a little bit, go to her father to receive her reward, and then return to the bathroom minutes later to receive another piece of candy. She learned to exploit the system to her maximum advantage (What Happens When…2007).

This story illustrates one of the challenges of implementing effective reward systems—they can have unintended and undesirable outcomes that may not be sustainable. And when trying to figure out how to effectively reward employees, managers can sometimes treat their charges as children that need the fear of punishment or the enticement of a reward as motivation. However, as Daniel Pink (2009) argues in his book DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, motivating employees is much more complicated than simply meting out rewards or punishments. For employees to be motivated to do their best, they need to know they are a part of something greater than themselves. The resources this week address how managers motivate employees successfully.

This week’s Shared Practice requires you to consider what rewards have motivated you to perform in your professional career. Then, you reflect on your experiences to determine how you frame your primary motivation and purpose.

With these thoughts in mind:

By Day 5

Post a description of a positive professional experience when you felt motivated to perform at your best and a description of a challenging professional experience when you did not feel very motivated to perform. Be sure to include what were the sources of motivation in both experiences. Then explain what each experience taught you about the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on your performance and the motivations that are the main sources of job satisfaction for you.

As you are analyzing your motivations and sources of job satisfaction, consider the advice that was reportedly given to U.S. President John F. Kennedy:

“A great man is one sentence.”

—Clare Boothe Luce

After you post your descriptions, write your one sentence that captures how you define your purpose or main priority on which you want to focus to make your organization, community, or the world a better place. Think about the legacy you want to leave or how you want to be remembered, or what makes you want to get out of bed each day.

Hint: Your sentence should emphasize how you want other to see you. For example, your sentence might be: Jane Rivera founded a company that gave back to the community and served a role model for young entrepreneurs. Or, Travis Williams’ family and friends could always count on his unconditional support.

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