The Drive to Mastery

I just finished reading a great book by Daniel Pink: Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The core, but likely oversimplification of his argument, is that business needs new motivational tools to foster the creativity, collaboration and innovation required in today’s service economy. The three keys to this new approach are:

1. Autonomy: to direct our own lives
2. Mastery: to continually get better at something that matters
3. Purpose: to do it for a larger cause

There are a lot of great concepts supported by extensive research and examples, but one idea really stood out to me. Mastery.

Daniel Pink argues that mastery is first a foremost a mindset. That is you need to believe your abilities are infinite and adaptable, but acknowledge that mastery like an asymptote is impossible to fully realize. Also, mastery is a pain. It requires effort, grit and deliberate practice over your lifetime. There is no easy button.

I think this concept of mastery is especially important for marketers today. Two reasons:

First, the skills, tools and mindset required to be a successful marketer today is very different from what it was five years ago and what it will be next year. Most recently, the proliferation of social and mobile technologies requires marketers be armed with new tools and a different mindset in order to just survive.

Second, as Thomas Friedman recently described: the world isn’t just flat, it’s hyperconnected. We are all competing with the global connected workforce and disruptive technologies. Creative design, application development, even your tweeting can be outsourced because there is someone else who can do it cheaper, faster and better.

My takeaway, it’s imperative to not only deliver distinct value but to continually pursue the Mastery of it.

Check out this great article from Fast Company describing how Generation Flux succeeds in this new world of chaos.


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