Losing Motivation
April 11, 2016 3:25 AM   Subscribe

"You know that feeling that you got in school when you had to do some homework?" Youtuber @mpjme of FunFunFunction talks about how external motivation can mess up your inner motivation. posted by popcassady (12 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
So THAT'S WHY I get stressed out at work.... the need to feel competent, at a task I've only been doing for about 1 1/2 years... if it was my shop, and I ate the mistakes, it would be a lot less stressful.... I trust my own ability to get things done, but not my ability to get them done well enough in the eyes of others... It's the whole mastery thing, thanks!
posted by MikeWarot at 4:42 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I came across Mattias' videos in January, and have really enjoyed them since. The one that hooked me (and got me laughing a lot) was one where he talked about Composition vs. Inheritance. Even if you're not into coding, I think the first example in this video is hilarious.
posted by avoision at 5:08 AM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thoughtful video, thanks for posting. Reminds me a bit of this Wait But Why post.

Also it prompted me to go re-locate this article arguing that there may be no such thing as intrinsic motivation, which really struck me as being intuitively true when I read it a few months ago.
posted by ropeladder at 5:45 AM on April 11, 2016 [5 favorites]

Just a tangentially related TED talk : Why work doesn't happen at work by Jason Fried
posted by jeffburdges at 6:01 AM on April 11, 2016

Will show this to my students. This hints at why, for example, students read books for fun, but do not often enjoy books they are forced to read. It explains a lot of what teens feel about school. Just replace "money" with "grades."

I like to encourage my students to work from a place of "inner motivation," which sometimes works wonderfully, whereas my bosses insist that I ramp up the amount of "accountability" in the classroom, meaning grading students on everything that happens in the classroom, including individual participation in small group discussions. I'm not doing it.
posted by kozad at 7:00 AM on April 11, 2016 [5 favorites]

I have been personally pummeled by the Overjustification Effect in the past, and boy howdy is it obnoxious. All it took to compromise my joy of writing was a paid book deal. After that, writing for free felt so empty. Luckily I managed to scale the wall of that particular hole and emerge only slightly soiled, but it took some time, strategy, and perspective. "Free will" my intergluteal cleft.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2016

This is an issue that youth librarians are dealing with. Traditionally, public libraries have summer reading clubs to keep kids reading over the summer. (And keep circulation number up, to be honest.). Usually these programs involve kids tracking their reading in some way and then reporting to the library to receive junky prizes. But librarians are reevaluating in light of this conversation about intrinsic and external rewards. Some have done away with the prizes altogether and some are modifying how they award them. Last year at my library there was a group prize. If the group read so many books then I would get "slimed" at the end of summer party. That was very motivating!
posted by Biblio at 8:21 AM on April 11, 2016 [6 favorites]

This was really helpful for me. I've been having a hard time understanding why I left my last job, and this nailed it. It was a great team, but for me, it was lacking all three of autonomy, mastery and purpose. It used up all of my internal reserves of motivation, and when they were exhausted, so was I.
posted by scruss at 8:31 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh wow, I don't know anything about javascript but these videos are fantastic and now I miss Sweden a lot.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:18 AM on April 11, 2016

I also really enjoyed the video and his walk to the quarry. (Factory buildings are so awesome!) What I liked about practicing Scrum/Agile method was the ability to break projects down into small component parts and then have a process for team check-ins and collaboration. It kind of circumvents the problems he's talking about which is having to find all those motivations at once in order to tackle a problem. When you make incremental progress and you do so with internal checks and rewards in small bites, you can work your way through the guts of a project without too much psychological distress.
posted by amanda at 10:33 AM on April 11, 2016

I've been having a hard time understanding why I left my last job, and this nailed it. It was a great team, but for me, it was lacking all three of autonomy, mastery and purpose. It used up all of my internal reserves of motivation, and when they were exhausted, so was I.

They're much like the "you can have two of the three" that's often said for projects: fast, good, or cheap. It's pretty well known in management that teams can have, say, autonomy and mastery without purpose and still be relatively (only relatively) happy; or mastery and purpose with little autonomy; etc. and so forth. But if two are missing, or one that is particularly important to you, you will not be happy, and managers know this. It's good you left your last job, because the type of managers that allow all three to be lost/taken away are generally doing it with a purpose in mind, namely, to be able to blame their teams in order to walk away scot free, and/or to literally devalue them so they don't ask for or get raises. I've had the tactics described/taught to me, so yeah, they are aware of it. There are those who are oblivious, but most are in full cognizance.

And no, of course I do not do that as a manager. I was so damned lucky as a kid to have teachers who encouraged my independent, curious streak. Thanks to them, I know in my bones that everyone needs that. So I do the opposite of the "blame the scapegoat/devalue" tactic, purposefully trusting my teams within clear guidelines, letting them take risks on side projects that fit their skills, and pointing out how the skills they're developing and using can reach a further purpose/career goal if they don't already see one. It works amazingly well. This too is known.
posted by fraula at 11:05 AM on April 11, 2016 [8 favorites]

Nice video, though I got a bit worried when he started wandering around an unsupervised quarry!

For me, the "not wanting be feel controlled" he refers to is a rejection of implicit threats. A salary or a recurrent prize for something comes with the potential threat that you won't get it next time, unless you have other assurances. A like or a favourite only comes with the threat of a relatively low value rescindment(? Rescission?)

It's related to not wanting to owe anyone anything, and part of why the idea of paying a friend for a home cooked meal would be an insult.
I cook you dinner => You slap down a hundred, implies:
I owe you a hundred => I cook you dinner, implies:
I don't cook you dinner => I owe you a hundred.
posted by lucidium at 6:56 PM on April 11, 2016

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