While I may have many motivations driving me to read, I do admit: it sometimes takes me a long time to get around to actually sitting down and, you know, turning the pages of a coveted book to actually read it. Daniel Pink's book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is one such example.
It's taken me over a decade to get around to opening the cover to Drive. Yes, Drive actually came out in 2009, so maybe this book no longer represents the cutting edge of discoveries about the human psyche. Though I enjoy reading books about psychology, my primary reason for selecting this book was the author. I enjoy reading Pink's writing.
I first started exploring the author's work with his 2002 volume, Free Agent Nation. If ever there was a tag for what I wanted to be when I grew up, it would be a free agent; I was sold on the title alone. Fortunately, the author's engaging and thorough writing style converted me to follow not only topics like that, but the author's future works, as well.
You may think subjects like motivation have no application to the world of genealogy, but think again. I could see genies in every turn of the page. Call me too single-minded, but I enjoy finding ways to cross-apply concepts. Take this simple set of instructions included in Drive, given to help people zero in on what they find personally motivating:
1.) What gets you up in the morning?
2.) What keeps you up at night?
The author shared this technique from another book on my reading to-do list: Rules of Thumb by Fast Company magazine co-founder Alan Webber, inviting readers to write down their answers to each of those two questions above.
When I followed the instructions to that simple exercise, I'm afraid my results turned out exactly opposite of what was intended.
My answer to #1: Obligations I have to attend to right away.
My answer to #2: Genealogy.
Granted, I've always realized I'm an outlier. (I'm also not a morning person.) But what is likely the opposite pattern—jumping out of bed with anticipation of the day's goals, but turning in at night laying a world of worries on top of one's pillow—is simply not me.
The exercise showed me something I think we all know: pursuing our passion of family history has kept many of us up half the night—and we see that as a good thing. A sign of what motivates us, keeps us engaged.
While much of Drive applies to the work world and rethinking what motivates people to achieve goals and dreams, the farther into the book I journeyed, the more it became a matter of seeing ourselves in a mirror. After all, the only ones who willingly subject themselves to cranking through pages of blurry microfilm, or to endure the dreary droning on and on of legal documents, are those of us on a mission to learn the rest of the story about our family's history. I'm not sure anyone could pay me enough to do drudgery like that for someone else, but I'd gladly do it for free for those intrinsic goals of finding my own family.