Done with Rewards!November 14th, 2010 at 17:53
I know I’m done with rewards. I have come to find the whole concept demeaning and rude and so 20th Century. Behavior modification, extrinsic motivation, gold stars, contests, “races to the top”, it all seems to no longer be useful in the evolution of our species. I think we are finally ready to let motivation be intrinsic and allow everyone to be who they really are and not what the rest of us want them to be instead.
When I still see parents trying to engineer every aspect and action of their kids’ lives by applying one form of bribe, withholding, or gentle coercion of any kind, I find it so depressing. And when I see the kids accepting it as par for the course, the way life is, I get even more down. I can now only see the toll on the human spirit that all this manipulation exacts. The sighs and shrugs, the need to hide who one really is to play all these games, to measure up to others expectations rather than ones own. I can see kids thinking to themselves why bother having any of my own expectations, it just gets in the way of satisfying everyone else’s.
From where I see it, rewards are about coercion, pure and simple, end of story! I am convinced that truly actualized human beings don’t need any external motivation. Rewards are only necessary to motivate people who are otherwise beaten down, damaged, or otherwise estranged from their own internal compass. So offering someone such an incentive is essentially acknowledging that they are damaged goods and/or otherwise demeaning their essential human dignity.
Its been about twelve years since I’ve attempted to externally motivate anyone, and its been a wonderful run! Every human being I have encountered during that time I have been able to engage with mutual respect and dignity, acknowledging their inherent worth as they are, as they freely choose to express themselves. What a joy it is each day to wake up knowing that I will not be attempting to coerce any of the wonderful fellow souls that I will encounter. What a level of mutual trust and respect I have with my own two now young adult kids.
I see others I know stressing about how they are going to motivate their kids or their coworkers to do this or that task or achieve this or that milestone. It’s hard enough charting ones own course without constantly having to put yourself in the position of charting other’s as well, and being responsible (rather than them) for the outcome. “I’m not my brother’s keeper.” In fact isn’t “keeping” someone enslaving them, even if they get to benefit in ways from being “kept”?
Okay… I will grudgingly acknowledge there are circumstances where people need to be coerced, but they should be the absolute exception rather than the rule! It should be akin to a declaration of martial law and never part of business as usual.