Daniel Pink – Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive by Dan Pink

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink is a non-fictional book that looks at what motivates people.  The book references many studies that attempts to come up with the conclusion.

The Candle Problem is a famous performance test that tested how quickly people were able to solve a particular problem that involved thinking creatively.  It turns out when participants were offered monetary incentives for solving the problem quickly they actually solved it slower than those who were not offered monetary rewards.

Another study showed that when you started fining parents for coming late to pick up their child at a daycare, they actually started to come in even later to pick up their kid.  The reasoning was that the parents now considered it a fair trade off they were willing to make – paying for extra child care time.

The conclusion Daniel Pink makes in his book is that rewards and punishments are not the motivating factors that so many people believe.  In turns out, according to the author, is that people are naturally intrinsically motivated and as long as their basic survival needs are met, they will do things simply because they want to.  Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that but you will have to read the book to get the full story.

Worth reading if you are in any kind of leadership/management role.

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Michael Lewis – Moneyball

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis is about how the Oakland Athletics used Math and Statistics in the late 1990s and early 2000s to draft baseball players instead of the conventional wisdom of baseball scouts.  Who knew you didn’t have to look like a baseball player with a tall, athletic body type to be an effective player?

Billy Beane used numbers to justify draft picks and trades and was able to win a lot of baseball games with the Athletics over teams with much bigger salaries.  They never did win a world series during the years the book covers, though.

I liked it.  Shows the value of stats.

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Carol Dweck – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

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Mind = Blown.  I remember taking an introductory psychology class in my first year of university as a filler class, something that would take up space and still give me credit.  I remember it completely fascinating me.  Though at the time I didn’t think you could make a career out of it (I’m a Math and Science guy).

Now, roughly 15 years later I pick up this book by Dr. Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success that completely blew my mind.  Who knew praising a child for being smart could actually lower their IQ?  Dr. Carol Dweck has researched this phenomenon for over 40 years and experiment after experiment she comes to the same conclusion – we need to praise people for their effort over the outcome.  Don’t tell someone how smart they are.  Instead, tell them how hard they worked.

Dr. Dweck coins two terms which are now very common, fixed mindsets and growth mindsets.  Someone with a fixed mindset believes abilities and talents are innate and generally can’t improve very much.  You’ve heard people say, “my dad wasn’t good at Math, so I won’t be”.  As if such a Math gene existed.

On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset thinks abilities and talents are grown through hard work and positive attitude.  In this mindset mistakes and failures are seen as learning tools.  Thomas Edison’s quote comes to mind, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work”.

The neat thing about the book Mindset is that it is a book, an easy to read narrative made up of everyday language instead of a hard backed psychology textbook written for university students.  One thing I’m not too sure about is that Dr. Dweck seemed to imply that every decision we made was because of our fixed or growth mindset.  If you got upset after striking out it was because you had a fixed mindset.  If you were slighted by a friend but you didn’t get upset it was because you had a growth mindset, etc.  I don’t know about that.

Fascinating read.  I will definitely be spending more time teaching my students about a growth mindset.

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John Maxwell – Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn

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Author John Maxwell writes in his book Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Lose Learn that he has written over 70 books on leadership!!  That seems like a lot.  How does someone write so many books on the same topic without using the same research material?

Anyway, Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Lose Learn is a mistake about failures and mistakes.  Quite literally.  The whole book is about the importance of making mistakes.  Of more specifically, how we can use mistakes to help us grow.

As a volleyball coach I thought the content of this book was great.  For the coach though, not the players.  I understand Maxwell has other books like Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Lose Learn for teens and Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Lose Learn for Kids which I may have to force strongly suggest for my players to read.

As much as I liked the content, I did not enjoy the author’s writing format all that much – there were way too many lists.  His main points would have a list of the good and bad and each list would have it’s own list as if the entire topic was exhaustively covered by his lists of 6 or 7 bullet points for each.  If that was the case he wouldn’t have needed to write over 70 books!

Nice quick read.  I read it from the point of view of a coach coaching players, but I could definitely see it being useful for anyone whose ever had a setback, so in other words, everyone.


 

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George R.R. Martin – A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire book 1)

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Well I have done it, as I knew I eventually would – I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire well before the series ended.  Perhaps it is weakness or perhaps I just wanted to read something quite awesome.  Book 1 A Game of Thrones did not disappoint.

A Song of Ice and Fire really is a historical fiction based off The Hundred Years War and The War of Roses but with dragons and magic.  I’ve heard the term “Low Magic” used to describe Martin’s use to magic in that it’s there but kind of just in the background.  It does not shape everyday life as Branden Sanderson’s magic systems do in his books.

Book 1 starts the series off with introducing us to the main characters and their motives which of course, as the title suggests, is to sit atop the Iron Throne.  Dishonourable men are pit against honourable men quite frequently in this book and from book 1 at least, one side seems to win more often than not.

I have heard that Martin’s cast of characters is so vast that it’s too hard to keep up with them all.  Maybe it’s just because I am so used to reading epic fantasies that I didn’t find it hard to keep up at all.  Even then, it really was only half a dozen or so main characters to keep up with.  Martin even named each chapter after the point of view character.  Not hard to keep up at all.

Much has been made about what the rating of this book should be.  Not how much stars out of 5 this book should get (it’s generally agreed that it should get quite a few) but rather what age is it safe.  Certainly there are lots of sexual references in this book but it’s not dominating.  There is lots and lots of gore but that’s how war is fought.  It’s messy.  I say if you have the patience to read through a 800 page book, then go ahead and read it.  The TV Show on the other hand………

This book took me longer to read than other epic fantasies of similar length.  Maybe it was just too clear cut to keep my full attention.  I mean, this exact story of political unrest has been played out dozens and dozens of times already.  The key players may change and even the time period but essentially the same thing happens over and over again.  History does in fact repeat itself.

Still, great read.  There is nothing flashy about Martin’s writing style.  Straight to the point.

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