The following text was selected from the book – The Power of Full Engagement
Extrinsic rewards have actually been shown to undermine intrinsic motivation. Researchers Mark R. Lepper and David R Green Spent time watching nursery school children at play in order to assess what they most enjoyed doing. Next, they began giving each child a reward each time he or she engaged in the preferred activity. Across the board) the children’s interest in activities quickly diminished when they were associated with rewards. In a second study, adults doing puzzles were rewarded each time they were successful in completing them. Like the children, their interest in continuing the aCtiVity progressively de. creased. Plainly, people can be motivated by material gain and by external praise. The point is that we feel more passion for and derive more pleasure from doing what We freely choose and most enjoy.
James D. was a senior executive in corporate communications for more than twenty years. He was well paid, and his job had allowed him and his wife to buy a large house that they loved, to live very comfortably, to take luxurious vacations and to put their three children through private school. James found his work intellectually challenging, but he never felt inspired or excited by it. The rewards he derived were almost all external. As he moved into his late forties, he hungered for something more. When he began to define his purpose, it became clear that what gave him the deepest sense of satisfaction was teaching-and learning. His happiest memories were from college and graduate school, when he pursued learning for its own sake.
The First change that James made was to get a part-time position teaching a communications course at a local university without giving up his day job. Six months later, he was offered the opportunity to take over the university’s public information department, while continuing to teach there. It meant taking a pay cut of more than 60 percent, but James didn’t hesitate. He quit his corporate job. By this point, his wife had decided to return to work herself, and that helped to ease the loss of income.
For the first year,James took on an occasional freelance consulting job to supplement their income, and they dipped into savings to cover
the difference between their costs and their expenses. In the second year, without even thinking much about it, they began to cut back, especially on luxuries and James gave up the freelancing, which he had done only halfheartedly.
During his corporate career, James had spent considerable time worrying about money, even as his income steadily increased. In his new life he found that he spent very little time thinking about money at all. With their two youngest kids in college, he and his wife decided to sell their large house, move into a smaller one and cut their expenses still further. James spent fewer hours actually working at his new job than he had in his corporate life. Nonetheless, fuelled by a passionate sense of purpose, he was far more efficient and productive than he had ever been before. He also found that he had time to begin a part-time graduate program in history, an interest that he had given up in college as unlikely to lead to a good living. One of the perks of his new job was the opportunity to take courses at no cost.