Sunday, January 31, 2010

Drive by Daniel H. Pink

The science shows that the secret to high performance is our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose.

We’re born to be players, not pawns. Engagement as a route to mastery is a powerful force in our personal lives. While complying can be an effective strategy for survival, it’s a lousy one for personal fulfillment.

In flow, the challenge wasn’t so easy. Nor was it too difficult. It was a notch or two beyond his current abilities, which stretched the body and mind in a way that made the effort itself the most delicious reward. The balance produced a satisfying degree of focus and satisfaction. In flow, he was autonomous and engaged, existing in the moment and connected to the task.

Every workplace should be a flow zone. The desire for an intellectual challenge keeps us engaged. Develop a flow-centered work strategy.

In every field, grit (perseverance, hard work, practice to overcome weaknesses), may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment.

As Carol Dweck says, “Effort is one of the things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something. Something is important to you, and you are willing to work for it. It would be an impoverished existence if you were not willing to value things and commit yourself to working toward them.”

Children careen from one flow moment to another, animated by a sense of joy, equipped with a mindset of possibility, and working with the dedication of a West Point Cadet. They use their brains and bodies in an endless pursuit of mastery. (Adults should try it!)


Good Work

Alfie Kohn

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

autonomy, creativity, mastery, and purpose

Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Penguin Group: 2009

[After experiencing a downturn in motivation due to cloudy skies, endless blizzards, and frigid temperatures, I decided to read Daniel H. Pink's book to hear his truth about what motivates the human animal. The paraphrased content from his book that you will find below is what I took to heart.]

The Need: Autonomy, Human Creativity, Mastery and Connection

People want to work autonomously, have the time necessary to master their work creatively, and recognize its beneficial connection to the community and the world. It’s time to throw away the tardy slips, time clocks, and outdated industrial-age thinking about management techniques.

It’s important to overturn the age-old idea of “managing” workers and students because people with intrinsic motivation almost always outperform carrot and stick grunts in the long run. Intrinsic motivation is a renewable resource. But, best of all, men and women who are intrinsically motivated experience a greater sense of physical and mental well-being.

Contingent rewards- if you do this, then you’ll get that- have a negative effect on people’s motivation. Why? Because if-then rewards require people to forfeit some of their autonomy.

The problem with making an extrinsic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route to achieve the end result, even it means taking the low road… Contrast that approach with behavior sparked by intrinsic motivation. When the reward is the activity itself, deepening learning or doing one’s best for example, there are no shortcuts. The only route to the destination is the high road.

CARROTS AND STICKS: The Seven Deadly Flaws

They can extinguish intrinsic motivation.

They can diminish performance.

They can crush creativity.

They can crowd out good behavior.

They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior.

They can become addictive.

The can foster short-term thinking.

The Self –Determination Theory (Richard Ryan and Edward Deci)

This theory argues that we have three innate psychological needs- competence, autonomy, and relatedness. In other words, human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.

“The science confirms that this sort of behavior is essential to being human- and that now, in a rapidly changing economy, it is also critical for professional, personal and organizational success of any kind,” writes Daniel H. Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us after reviewing a substantial amount of literature on the subject of human motivation

[Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, is cited in Pink’s book and is also now on my reading list.]

I found this quote from Seth Godin inspiring and insightful concerning human nature and employment.

“As an entrepreneur, I’m blessed with 100% autonomy over task, time, technique and team… The art of the art is picking your limits. That’s the autonomy I cherish. The freedom to pick my boundaries.” Seth Godin, author of Tribes and Purple Cow

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dough It: Loaves of Love

Do a little dance; Share a little love; Bake a loaf of bread!

This whole-wheat bread recipe is the scrumptious partnership of delicious and healthy, so much so that I am considering devoting part of each Sunday to the bread baking experience. Painting the crust with an egg wash is my favorite part. Grocery store bread can’t measure up to the real thing.

100% Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread

Makes enough for two 2-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

5 cups whole-wheat flour

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

½ cup wheat germ

1½ tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets of yeast

1 tablespoon salt

¼ cup vital wheat gluten (Vital wheat gluten is easy to find in the supermarket.)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2½ cups lukewarm water

1 cup buttermilk

¾ cup maple syrup

¼ cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola oil.)

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) for brushing on top of the crust

Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

1. Mixing the dough: Whisk together the flour, oats, wheat germ, yeast, salt, vital wheat gluten, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

2. Add the liquid ingredients and mix without kneading using a spoon.

3. Cover (not airtight) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4. Grease two loaf pans. Separate the dough into two parts. Elongate each part into an oval and place each oval in a loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow these two loaves to rest for 60 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top of the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

7. Bake for about 45 or 50 minutes, until richly brown and firm.

8. Allow the loaves to cool for at least 15 minutes in the pans.

[Advice: Stick large chunks of warm buttered bread into your mouth. Chew with self-awareness and eyes closed. Smile while executing the final step and share some love with the neighbors.]

Recipe: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., & Zoë François, St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2009, p. 147

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sexual Maturity in Humans Takes Time

Sex and Age: Think on This

Words of Wisdom from... Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed, Penguin Publishing, 2010

Immanuel Kant believed that we humans, because we are so emotionally complex, go through two puberties in life. The first puberty is when our bodies become mature enough for sex; the second puberty is when our minds become mature enough for sex. The two events can be separated by many, many years, though I do wonder if perhaps our emotional maturity comes to us only through the experiences and lessons of our youthful romantic failures. To ask a twenty-year-old girl to somehow automatically know things about life that most forty-year-old women needed decades to understand is expecting an awful lot of wisdom from a very young person. Maybe we all go through the anguish and errors of a first puberty, in other words, before any of us can ascend into the second one?

[And, what do search engines like Google reveal about sexual maturity and the pursuit of love?]

Monday, January 04, 2010

About Me

My photo

What do I do? That’s a question with more depth than the deceiving three-word construction would lead us to believe.

I live on planet earth with other folks, and I’m involved in the field of education and learning. I’m a life-long learner with a passion for knowledge and the process of bending bits of ideas into new constructions of beauty.