I’ve been reading a lot lately about motivation. My go-to is Daniel Pink’s Drive (2009). Pink argues that having autonomy is the key to motivation, and I agree: at work, at home and in a self-directed learning environment. Pink explains that rewarding people for hard work decreases motivation. He calls it “if, then” (if you do, then you’ll get – also known as the carrot and stick approach). This attempt at motivation takes the control away from individuals to do great work on their own accord, because it “requires people to forfeit some of their autonomy” (p. 36).
In Student Engagement Techniques (2010), Dr. Elizabeth Barkley explains that motivation requires two elements: expectancy and value. People must expect that they will be successful at performing a task, and they must value the work that they are doing (p. 58). I suspect that a combination of expectancy and value is what motivates our Olympic athletes in PyeongChang. I’m not sure if autonomy has anything to do with their success at the Winter Games though. These athletes must rely on family, coaches, communities, and the support of their country to excel at their sport. I suppose it’s autonomy that drives them to work harder than their competitors because the goal is not just to represent your country and your sport, the athletes are also trying to achieve a medal or an Olympic record. And these athletes must be motivated even when they are sick or tired or COLD or in pain. Such drive!
As a Canadian, watching the Olympics this winter, I’m inspired by the dedication and sacrifice of our athletes, and I am so proud of all of them for their motivation to represent us all.
The above photo was taken on a very cold day at Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna, British Columbia