Who is In Control? – It’s Better When You Are? – (Insight from Charles Duhigg & Daniel Pink)


A few years ago, I wrote a short e-book, 12 Vital Signs of Organizational Health. After reading and presenting business books for over 15 years at that point, I identified 12 “categories” to work on within an organization. I am now seeing, with more clarity, that there are two “meta-areas” that we all need to work in and on. The first is “personal productivity,” and the other is “organizational productivity.”

Charles Duhigg is an award-winning journalist who has researched and written in both of these areas, and in his books, he writes about both – personal productivity and organizational productivity.

Smarter Better FasterI presented his first book The Power of Habit, shortly after it was published. I’m now well into my reading of his new book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. (I will present this book at the May 6 First Friday Book Synopsis).

Here’s an excerpt:

Motivation is more like a skill, akin to reading or writing, that can be learned and honed. Scientists have found that people can get better at self-motivation if they practice the right way. The trick, researchers say, is realizing that a prerequisite to motivation is believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings. To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control. (emphasis added).

drive_book-by-daniel-pink_danpinkdotcom1Daniel Pink, in Drive, wrote about this. Here’s his own twitter summary of his book: “Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery, & purpose.” And he listed this as the first element of “Motivation 3.0 – Autonomy: a renaissance of self-direction.”

I have certainly found this to be true in my own work (and life) pursuits. I do better when I feel like I am in control – in control of my own work, in control of my own agenda for work. And, I definitely know the floundering feeling I have when I feel out of control. That is not a good place to be!

So, one key to better productivity – aim for “authority over your own actions and surroundings.” Aim for autonomy. And then, as you feel in control, work hard, and you will feel, and be, so much more productive.

So, take a look at your own current work life and pattern. Do you feel like you are in control; that you have authority over your own actions and surroundings? If not, work to fix that!

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