Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

Just finished up Drive by Daniel Pink and am trying to synthesize his thoughts into a concise package for future use. This is why I could probably never write a book; I don’t do filler very well. I try and cut to the chase and make sure my point is understandable in about a page or so and then trust that you might find it as interesting as I did.

The application of my reading usually falls in the direction of leadership and how it can make me a better leader. Whether as a professional pastor as I was for so many years, or now as a small businessman, leadership is indispensable if an organization or effort is going to effective for the long term. The Tea Party Movement may have its day at the polls today, but eventually it will need a head that can direct the rest of the parts in a coherent fashion. If everyone is in charge, no one is in charge.

But the way in which we lead is the operative story here. HOW will we move people from point A to point B? What method of motivation will be employed to accomplish the mission and achieve the objective? Will it be inspiration or intimidation, coercion or cooperation? And do I know myself well enough to recognize my default tendency?

Pink’s first point about motivation is that people need a sense of autonomy in their work. This is not to be confused with independence, or a go-it-alone, every man for himself mentality. Instead it is the ability to act with choice, to feel the freedom to set a direction, make a decision, or design a plan without fear that if it fails, I won’t be put to shame. Rather, I will be trusted as a part of the team or community that affirms I am capable to do the job.

I have to admit that I never felt this kind of belief growing up in The Church As We Know It. The fundamental paradigm I experienced was built on distrust, that I did not possess the ability to make the right call when it comes to matters of spiritual belief and formation. Consequently I was told I needed to be in attendance at meetings. To use Pink’s words, I knew very little autonomy.

I believe autonomy is not extended because it appears more difficult to manage, both in the Marketplace and The Church As We Know It. I recall a saying used to defend this mentality; “Don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out.” The implication is that I would no doubt make the wrong decision if I was afforded too much freedom.

To be fair, young faith might need these kinds of tight parameters as it develops. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child. But when I became a man, I did away with childish things, included in that is a lack of autonomy. I wonder if those who are disillusioned with the Church As We Know It are so because they feel they are still being treated as a child.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Great post! Daniel Pink is mind-blowingly brilliant. If you want to catch him next, he'll be sharing the stage with the New York Times' Daniel Pogue and Creativity guru Sir Ken Robinson at the Creativity World Forum in Oklahoma City on Nov. 15-17. Check it out at www.stateofcreativity.com