I watched an insightful Video in Ted.com on ‘Why do people work?’
Scroll down for Video and Transcript.
People who were paid money gradually lost interest.
People whose work was discarded gave up immediately.
Those who were appreciated performed better,
And those who did not for pleasure did well.
Money ,it is observed by the narrator is not a factor at all.
The instances of Adventure Sports like Mountaineering was quoted.
True, those who climb mountains climb despite hazards and payments start all over again for the sheer pleasure of it.
Edmund Hillary put it better, when he asked why he kept on climbing Mountains,
‘Because it is there”
Appears to be true.
But they too need Money to climb mountains and they go in for some other jobs or for sponsors for expenses.
So Money is needed.
The point is we do get pleasure in doing what we want to and we perform better,yet if the basic needs are not met you can not do do or work what gives you pleasure.
The crux is the result of the Work.
If the work is appreciated by others and if the work is creative and not destroyed we work better.
So work or performance Pleasure and efficiency is determined by the results it produces.
Yet the results of work is not determined by our efforts or work alone.
It has other factors to influence the results, like the other factors , environment and people.
Even a simple task like brushing one’s teeth assumes and needs other factors like Gravity,paste being available at a given time and most imp importantly one should be alive.
These factors, agents are not in one’s control and as such the outcome of any work depends heavily on these external factors.
The best one can do is to efficiently manage the one factor in one’s control, that is Himself.
If one were to worry about the other factors like others’ opinion and other factors,the very thought will impair on’e efficiency, thus lowering the chances of the work being completed successfully and as a result the pleasure one can derive.
Therefore to improve efficiency and derive pleasure out of work is to change the mind-set into one of detached attachment.
An action that is performed is non action when there is no involvement or motivation.
An action that is performed with the results in mind are Actions, which may cause disappointments when one is not appreciated or the work is destroyed.
Non action is an action is one where one performs an action or work because it has to be done without bothering about the consequences .
Here there is action and yet there is no anticipation of results and consequently no disappointment; if it is appreciated or remains for some time you are Happy, it is a Bonus.
This is the way one has to approach to work to be Happy and be more efficient.
One should be careful in understanding this thought as this does not mean non involvement or irresponsibility.
This is the Message of the Path of Action by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
When we think about how people work,the naive intuition we have is that people are like rats in a maze – that all people care about is money, and the moment we give people money, we can direct them to work one way, we can direct them to work another way. This is why we give bonuses to bankers and pay in all kinds of ways. And we really have this incredibly simplistic view of why people work and what the labor market looks like.
At the same time, if you think about it, there’s all kinds of strange behaviors in the world around us. Think about something like mountaineering and mountain climbing. If you read books of people who climb mountains, difficult mountains, do you think that those books are full of moments of joy and happiness? No, they are full of misery. In fact, it’s all about frostbite and difficulty to walk and difficulty of breathing – cold, challenging circumstances.And if people were just trying to be happy, the moment they would get to the top, they would say, “This was a terrible mistake. I’ll never do it again.” (Laughter) ”Instead, let me sit on a beach somewhere drinking mojitos.” But instead, people go down, and after they recover, they go up again. And if you think about mountain climbing as an example, it suggests all kinds of things. It suggests that we care about reaching the end, a peak. It suggests that we care about the fight, about the challenge. It suggests that there’s all kinds of other things that motivate us to work or behave in all kinds of ways.
And for me personally, I started thinking about this after a student came to visit me. This was a student that was one of my students a few years earlier. And he came one day back to campus. And he told me the following story: He said that for more than two weeks, he was working on a PowerPoint presentation. He was working in a big bank. This was in preparation for a merger and acquisition. And he was working very hard on this presentation – graphs, tables, information. He stayed late at night every day. And the day before it was due, he sent his PowerPoint presentation to his boss, and his boss wrote him back and said, ”Nice presentation, but the merger is canceled.” And the guy was deeply depressed.Now at the moment when he was working, he was actually quite happy. Every night he was enjoying his work, he was staying late, he was perfecting this PowerPoint presentation. But knowing that nobody would ever watch that made him quite depressed.
So I started thinking about how do we experiment with this idea of the fruits of our labor.And to start with, we created a little experiment in which we gave people Legos, and we asked them to build with Legos. And for some people, we gave them Legos and we said,”Hey, would you like to build this Bionicle for three dollars? We’ll pay you three dollars for it.” And people said yes, and they built with these Legos. And when they finished, we took it, we put it under the table, and we said, “Would you like to build another one, this time for $2.70?” If they said yes, we gave them another one. And when they finished, we asked them, ”Do you want to build another one?” for $2.40, $2.10, and so on, until at some point people said, “No more. It’s not worth it for me.” This was what we called the meaningful condition. People built one Bionicle after another. After they finished every one of them, we put them under the table. And we told them that at the end of the experiment, we will take all these Bionicles, we will disassemble them, we will put them back in the boxes, and we will use it for the next participant.
There was another condition. This other condition was inspired by David, my student. And this other condition we called the Sisyphic condition. And if you remember the story about Sisyphus, Sisyphus was punished by the gods to push the same rock up a hill, and when he almost got to the end, the rock would roll over, and he would have to start again. And you can think about this as the essence of doing futile work. You can imagine that if he pushed the rock on different hills, at least he would have some sense of progress. Also, if you look at prison movies, sometimes the way that the guards torture the prisoners is to get them to dig a hole and when the prisoner is finished, they ask him to fill the hole back up and then dig again. There’s something about this cyclical version of doing something over and over and over that seems to be particularly demotivating. So in the second condition of this experiment, that’s exactly what we did. We asked people, “Would you like to build one Bionicle for three dollars?” And if they said yes, they built it. Then we asked them, “Do you want to build another one for $2.70?” And if they said yes, we gave them a new one, and as they were building it, we took apart the one that they just finished. And when they finished that, we said, “Would you like to build another one, this time for 30 cents less?” And if they said yes, we gave them the one that they built and we broke. So this was an endless cycleof them building and us destroying in front of their eyes.
Now what happens when you compare these two conditions? The first thing that happenedwas that people built many more Bionicles — they built 11 versus seven – in the meaningful condition versus the Sisyphus condition. And by the way, we should point out that this was not a big meaning. People were not curing cancer or building bridges. People were building Bionicles for a few cents. And not only that, everybody knew that the Bionicles would be destroyed quite soon. So there was not a real opportunity for big meaning. But even the small meaning made a difference.
Now we had another version of this experiment. In this other version of the experiment, we didn’t put people in this situation, we just described to them the situation, much as I am describing to you now, and we asked them to predict what the result would be. What happened? People predicted the right direction but not the right magnitude. People who were just given the description of the experiment said that in the meaningful condition people would probably build one more Bionicle. So people understand that meaning is important, they just don’t understand the magnitude of the importance, the extent to which it’s important.