One of our clients sent us a video about workplace motivation (see the bottom of this page) last week. It got us thinking about what motivates us and those around us to do their best work, and how we can ensure we’re all working towards the ultimate goals of happiness and fulfilment.

The video is an illustrated version of Dan Pink’s talk at RSA which takes us on a quick spin around the subject of one of his pet topics, motivation. Studies have shown that being offered more money to do a better job makes no difference when we are dealing with any tasks which require anything other than manual/physical work. So, motivation for cognitive tasks can’t be linked to more money, and in fact, being offered more money actually leads to poorer performance.

What it is it that we need to do our best work? The video concludes that it’s autonomy, mastery and above all, purpose. But what exactly does ‘purpose’ mean? We (like Dan) think it means doing something which you have a natural talent for, and not always for monetary reward, but also for satisfaction and enjoyment, and the feeling of doing something to help the wider community.

So how do we go about achieving these things? Some choose to do community work, or work for free which advances their field. The digital and tech sectors are particularly well known for their commitment to developing things simply for the love of it rather than commercial gain.

The one thing you need for all of this is a passion for what you are doing, enough to go out there and do it not just when you’re getting paid, but the rest of the time too. Perhaps you could volunteer your services to those who need it, through charities or community initiatives. Perhaps you could work on developing those ideas that pop up during the working day in your spare time. Whatever form your purpose takes, do as much of it as you can.

So here comes the big question; do you love what you do enough to spend your free time on it? And if not, what do you love that much?

This is a talk for RSA given by Dan Pink, author of bestselling books Drive and A Whole New Mind.