Everyone once in a while, something happens that really challenges me to sit back and look at the assumptions and beliefs I hold about people. Reading Chip and Dan Heath’s book, “Made to Stick”, provided me one of those moments.
I learned about a research study that was done where people were surveyed to find out which option they would choose if they had to choose between a job that paid well, but was meaningless work and a job that paid reasonably, but was very important, meaningful work.
I was not at all surprised that the study found that the majority of people want to do meaningful work.
What did surprise me was the result of the follow-up question that was asked. Most people felt that the majority of people would choose the well-paying job.
I realized that I see this belief play out every day in my work. We talk about internal motivation, and that meaningful work trumps rewards. But when we are looking at the child that is causing us grief, we say “That kid will never do anything without a reward or consequence.” And we throw out the idea of working with the child, and resort back to our traditional carrots and sticks approach.
Do we really think that our motivations are so different than that of other people’s?