This week when I finished Drive, I slipped it into the bag of library returns. Then I had second thoughts. Though I didn’t think the book required additional processing, some of its concepts and stories lingered with me, so I plucked the book from the bag and set it on my desk to flip through a few more times.A couple of days ago, I invited two friends over who are parents dealing not only with the ups and downs of motivating their teenaged sons and daughters, but also with the challenges of home educating those same kids. As we chatted, some topic would come up and I would paraphrase a story found in Drive. The third time I found myself trying to remember a statistic or the name of a company, I simply excused myself to grab the book. Back at the table where we were sitting, I flipped it open and read short passages, asking what they thought about this idea or that.The book questions our standard method for motivating people, be they our employees, students or children. This “carrot-and-stick” method, which author Daniel H. Pink calls Motivation 1.0, relies on extrinsic motivation that in some way motivates good behavior and penalizes bad behavior. He claims that a new and better approach is needed for individuals, businesses, schools and families; he would like us to consider a switch to Motivation 2.0, which taps into a person’s intrinsic motivation.My friends and I talked about the frustration of motivating kids to do chores. Pink claims that connecting chores with a payment (as a reward, a “carrot”) is hearkening back to Motivation 1.0. Research reveals that paying kids to do chores doesn’t work over the long haul. With Motivation 2.0, one considers how to give kids autonomy, purpose and the opportunity for mastery instead of how to give rewards. Those are the three elements Pink lists as key to Motivation 2.0: autonomy, purpose and mastery.One of the moms said that three years ago, she and her husband made a master list of every task necessary to keep their home functioning and healthy (read: clean). The list was long, she said, because they wrote out every little thing. Then the parents wrote their names next to tasks that they do. The remaining tasks were up for grabs. They asked their sons to work out among the three of them who would do which task, but that each and every job had to be claimed and “owned.” Then the parents left the room. The boys were on their own.Not long after, the boys came to their parents and held out the list. Next to each item: a name. They worked it out. The boys still complete those chores that they selected three years ago. It worked out nicely, she said, because one kid didn’t mind doing dishes whereas another kid hated dishes but was willing to scrub toilets. They understood the purpose: that those tasks need to be done for the household to function well. Autonomy was offered when each boy could choose and take ownership of a set of tasks. The boy arrived at mastery when he learned to consistently do his jobs well over the long haul.The other friend and I listened carefully to her inspiring story, a little jealous. “Oh, that’s good,” the other friend murmured. “That’s very, very good.”“Brilliant,” I agreed. Then I told a more cautionary tale, about the days of yore when I invited my son or daughter to join me so that together we could hang clothes on the line to dry. I told the kids how beautiful it was hearing the birds sing and feeling the sunshine through dappled leaves in the morning. They agreed and joined me to get the job done quickly and in community. We enjoyed lovely conversations as we stood side-by-side, handing each other clothes pins and accomplishing the task together.Then, one day, I had to run an errand, but the clothes still needed to be hung. I told one of the kids I would pay her to do it by herself. She did, gladly. I paid her when I got back and thanked her. But that was the end of the first idyllic scenario under the dappled sunshine. The paid option worked well the first time, but I’d unwittingly short-circuited intrinsic interest and replaced it with a reward. Next time I asked for help, she expected the payment to stay the same or increase. Why bother doing it for free ever again?I’ll be returning Drive to the library before long, but I’ll be thinking about intrinsic motivation—especially with regard to parenting, even chores specifically—for a long, long time.
I’m learning a lot as I eliminate foods from my diet to determine possible allergies. I have reactions after eating watermelon and cantaloupe. And bananas. Strange, no? In the next few months I hope to confirm other possible offenders such as dairy and wheat, and if they are the trouble, I’ll avoid them altogether.Also, I’m grateful for all those who have suffered and struggled with allergies, prompting companies and restaurants to begin offering ingredient lists, as well as quality gluten-free and dairy-free products. It has made this experiment so much easier.
One of my daughters and I were running an errand together, and I made the comment that I hated youth group games when I was her age.”Why?” she asked.”I…I don’t know.” I thought about it. “Maybe because they seemed ridiculous, humiliating, and a waste of time. I really just wanted to talk to people. Why did we have to run back and forth to a baseball bat, spin around a dozen times, carry an egg in a spoon across a parking lot, and so on?”She laughed.”Maybe I’m just no fun,” I suggested.She laughed again…without answering.
The drought.Rain just keeps slipping past; storms that hold precious rain simply fall off the radar before reaching our part of the state or break up and sneak north or south of us. The radio warns of the threat to our water supply and to crops pushing into rock-hard soil, wilting under 100-degree sun before producing fruit.Extreme drought conditions are new to me. My awareness grows. Just today I heard water running through pipes in the wall next to my desk. One of my daughters was showering. The water ran and ran and ran, and I realized I’ve not taught her ideas for water conservation such as the Navy Shower.I turn on the sink and imagine the possibility of brownish water flowing from the faucet when the reservoirs have offered their last gulp and have nothing left but muddy dregs. As I fill my glass, I realize how much I take for granted. I down clear and cool water…and give thanks.
No big projects.
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