Daniel Pink Explains Drive 2.0: What Motivates Humans?

What is the force behind people who work hard (and love what they do)?

Have you ever wondered why you work so hard?

If you are lucky enough to love what you do, and all the crazy hours and sacrifices you make, have you considered what are the really big reasons that make you keep up the insane pace of work?

Daniel Pink offers a book (on The New York Times Best Seller List) Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,  and a Ted Talk (20 million views) with his insight. 

The Trio of Drivers in our work

I learned a lot from his book.  Like the word ‘manager’ really does not make sense when you are working with people who have the internal drive and are motivated by what Pink describes as Motivation 2.0

You know a book has an impact on you when you can see the world a little differently.  When the author helps you develop a mental model of one part of our complex world in which we live.

Drive helped me develop a mental model of what makes us and others ‘tick’, get out of bed, spend most of our waking hours at work and away from some pretty attractive alternative options.

Here is how I apply to myself the trio that Pink offers:

Purpose: I do what I love and what I believe in,  despite insane hours at times. Working to be a good doctor and teacher.  I have had great doctors and professors teach me (leads to a happy ending) and not so good doctors and professors take care of me and my family (not a happy ending).

Mastery: I want to achieve and maintain mastery of what I do so I can be sure my patients get the best care. Although Mastery is a personal goal (for me), sucess for my patients and my students is a team sport.

Autonomy: I want to do my work in the areas that I can master, enjoy and which have deep meaning.  This last dimension, autonomy, is the hardest to find.  Autonomy is elusive in healthcare (it’s complicated).   The lack of autonomy for many people who work with great sacrifice is one of the reasons we see burn out.

The perfect balance of Purpose, Mastery, Autonomy is difficult to achieve.  The proportions of these three ingredients shift over time and for many reasons, often beyond our control. Knowing how to reflect and where to focus our thinking and action across the trio that drives us, gives us a head start on seeing meaning and joy in our life.

Thanks for visiting.


The Puzzle of Motivation


The Book

Head over to Amazon.




Relationship Medicine: Learn Simple Pearls from a Relationship Researcher

If you are a physician and married or in a relationship, I have great news for you, we can all learn high-yield 'relationship pearls' from well-done marriage research in the same way we learn 'clinical pearls' from Evidence-Based Medicine. Meet Dr. John Gottman.

Gottman Research Methodology

A few years ago, when I felt I needed some extra guidance to move closer to marital bliss, I discovered a book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman. (He has many other outstanding books).From Gottman's book and his videos, I learned many practical  ‘marriage pearls’.

Gottman's advice, driven by his compelling research, can help couples trying to cope with the stress of crushing work hours and expanding life's responsibilities. The long journey from med school through residency and beyond is not easy and we should all be ready to learn from Gottman.

If you are too busy to read the book, watch the video (below). Gottman highlights his research findings in a way that is soothing, engaging and motivating. You will want to read the book.

One of the quantitative research methods Dr. Gottman uses to study couples is a 'love-lab.

In the lab, he brings couples to a little vacation-like setting, a modest apartment with great views in Seattle. After informed consent, couples spend a weekend in the apartment with video cameras in place (everywhere but the bedroom and bathroom) recording how they talk and interact with each other. Their blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels are measured whether they are getting along or not.

Gottman Relationship Pearl

Hear is a pearl you will learn from Gottman about the predictors of good (and bad) outcomes in marriage which are based on his long term follow-up of nearly three thousand couples over twenty years.

It's intuitive that saying kind things is better for a relationship, right? Well, Gottman and colleagues observed the impact of negative v.s. postive statements while couples spent time in the love lab.

Q. What do you think the the ratio of positive statements and behavior to negative statements and behavior predicts a successful marriage? 

A.  5: 1

Think about it.  When you are anger or hurt you say and do things that maybe hurtful to your partner. Those negatvie behaviors are have a much greater impact on the relation than the positive behaviors you have shown.

Watch a Forty-Minute Video to Learn Skills and Understand the Research

I love the video below.  I have watched twice and suggest you have a pen handy. You may want to take notes.

So, grab a glass of wine or your favorite herbal tea and watch the video with your partner or alone. See what 'marriage pearls' you will pick up.

After you watch this video, check out The Gottman Institute and find more incredibly informative and inspirational videos, books and resources.


Closing Thoughts

We all begin a relationship or marriage with our own ideas of what we should do from our own personal life experiences, advice from friends, parents, media and beyond.

When you think about it, doesn't it make sense that if you are in a relationship that you should know some of the actual research and evidence that drives great outcomes?

The ultimate goal of a marriage, in my humble opinion, is to develop a deep friendship that serves as a foundation for happiness and harmony where the partners respect and support each other. The foundation has to be solid enough to handle lots of incoming stress.  The mutual understanding in a relationship has to be deep and flexible to handle the daily challenges of too much to do in too little time.

I know that I have done some things well and while for other things I could have done far better in my marriage of twenty-nine years to Jackie, my eternally patient wife.  Jackie and I continue to celebrate many beautiful moments and navigate challenges that pop up in our busy lives. We are blessed to have two great kiddos starting their independent lives

As I think back in our marriage and the challenges we have had, I would have loved to know what Dr. Gottman teaches us now.

It's never too late to learn what you can do better in a relationship or marriage.

Thanks for visiting.


Ryan’s 5 Essential Questions In Life: Inspiring Words in a Graduation Speech Become a Best Seller

A simple title with a big message

If I asked you to think about the most important questions to ask in life, both at home and work, what would you say?  This answer is not always easy and all of us would come up with different answers.

Standing in line at FedEx I found a little book: Wait What?  And Life’s Other Essential Questions.

I started reading the intro, and I was hooked, with humor and logic and headed to the parking lot where  I watched the inspiring six-minute excerpt of the speech with a message advising us to spend more time thinking about good questions.

First a speech then The New York Times Best Seller

Dean James Ryan gave the 2016 commencement speech for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His colleagues posted a video excerpt of the speech which went viral and then HarperCollins asked Ryan to turn the speech into a book. The rest is history.

I have watched the speech several times, alone, and with my wife and kiddos. Every time I watch the video, I think about the words even more deeply. The book is a fabulous quick read filled with Ryan’s humor, just like the speech.

Ryan reminds me of how important it is to remain curious and spend more time thinking about why good questions are so very important.

My favorite question, “What truly matters?”

I intentionally did not make a bullet list all the questions in the book because I think you will be far more inspired and entertained if you watch Dean Ryan.

I have used some version of the 5 Essential Questions at work when I discuss or think about many topics, both at home and at work when I am taking care of patients, reflecting on physician burnout, or thinking about a project using ‘Lean Thinking’ (what is the gap in process that REALLY matters?).

My recently minted college grad children who are navigating life in their twenties are learning how hard it is to find work-life balance need to this question.

Question number five: “What truly matters? This is the most important question I have to ask in my personal life and work life. The question helps me slow down and really think about what I am doing and why I am doing it.

I am asking this question now as I help care for my eighty-seven-year-old wonderful dad struggling at the end of his life. What is that really matters to him and my mother in these days?

I ask this question at home when our family is struggling with decisions that tug as in different directions.

And I ask this question when I am at work trying to define a priority in a patient’s care journey.

Enjoy the video and the book as you explore the other questions James Ryan offers you to ponder.

Thanks for visiting.


The Speech: 6 Minutes


The Book: read a sample

Harper-Collins the publisher has a sample you can read, or you can head over to Amazon.