Interesting enough Maslow seemed more confused closer to death than near certainty. I think he was spot on with the b values but so t think I’d map them to a pyramid. It’s more like you need a portal to get there (maybe a sabbatical or quitting your job!).

This is where all social science theories fall flat. They make some elementary assumptions about what a “normal” adult should be doing.

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I wonder why there is no mimetic desire for b-values.

Does aspiring toward b-values make them harder to attain? Or because they're not quantifiable it's harder to hold them up as an example.

Something along the lines of "It's impossible to make a TikTok about being in flow states, and if you try you'll bring yourself out."?

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I think there is in spiritual communities. But not very widespread.

I sense most people just spend most of their life trying to get rid of the feelings of lack. It’s amazing once you’ve sort of resolved some of those fears to watch older people who are still sort of going through life like young children afraid.

I think there is an aging thing to this but it’s always made me curious. How can I speed up this process??

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Speaking of what a normal adult should be doing

I first realized there are broadly two objectives with the way we use our collective knowledge as species and individual minds

1. Pursue Truth

2. Get Results

Truth means need to come up with abstractions or theories that apply widely

Results means changes and transformations in individual cases

Science (even the social sciences) are pursuing Truth

So as an individual if I find something that works for me but only for me, even if it doesn’t generalised well that’s all it matters

Conversely if there is a generally true theory that applies to me, but I don’t get the desired Results, then that Truth is insufficient

With this new mindset / North Star in place, over the past 2 years I gradually come across what I needed to hear

One of which is this concept of micro motives


It’s from a book called dark horse I haven’t finished reading it

But it makes a lot more sense because it essentially argues for situational advice

Looking at past history and what you unthinkingly judge other people on, you will be able to get very minute clues on what will eventually turn on the b value levers in your unique person

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“If you want to know what your own shortcomings are, look at what irritates you in others.” – Tony Demello via Infinite Loops episode with Visa.

Also sounds like the 5 Why's exercise?

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I like this

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Actually, Paul, if you don't mind, what specifically about this you like?

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i think it maps to reality much better than these lofty theories

far too much of academic stuff like autonomy, mastery, purpose is hacked together theory from disparate studies of rich american college students and then applied awkwardly to corporations by thought leaders who have never actually read the studies.

truth and what works is much more antifragile

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agree that the concepts are very abstract and not very actionable. Exploring a way to make them actionable next, starting with tomorrow's issue.

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> it maps to reality much better than these lofty theories

By "it", you mean the micro motives in the Dark Horse via the ted article?

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no i like the micromotives - im saying compared to the others mentioned in the comments - self determination, hygiene theory, maslow

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Thanks for the compliment 👍

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Google herzberg two factors theory

It’s essentially the same thing but more precise than millerds

Let me give a very summarized version of herzberg

Most people think happy and unhappy are two ends of the same spectrum hence opposite of happy is unhappy

Herzberg theory says happy and unhappy are actually their own separate spectrums (once you understand this, everything else becomes easy to understand and remember)

So you have happy vs not happy as two ends of one spectrum

Unhappy vs not unhappy as two ends of a diff spectrum

Happy spectrum affected by meaning related factors like purpose etc

Unhappy spectrum affected by hygiene factors like money

Think of a 2x2 where your axes are happy and unhappy axes

So you have

Quadrant 1: happy and not unhappy (ideal situation)

Q2: not happy and not unhappy (think abt your rich but unfulfilled banker as stereotype)

Q3: unhappy and happy (think abt your dirt poor social worker who has issues making rent but making an impact in community)

Q4: unhappy and not happy (worst case - poorly paid in unfulfilling job)

You can of course do the Maslow pyramid thing and start by concentrating on solving hygiene factor problem first

But I don’t think it’s a one size fits all

I have seen people who focus on solving for meaning first because somehow they will auto (and indeed) end up solving hygiene factors along the way

Even the same person may end up changing their approach because their experiences n strengths n commitments are different at different stages of their life

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Yes, this is exactly what I was trying to say!

Two buckets that are not necessarily related to each other.

Paul even says that the hierarchy is not actually what Maslow had in mind.

But I think people act as if one bucket can help solve the other bucket.

The problem I see from the wikipedia page is that it's very goal oriented. I feel that the happy spectrum doesn't positively shift due to fulfilling goals, but pursuing goals actually shifts you negatively along this axis.

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> The problem I see from the wikipedia page is that it's very goal oriented. I feel that the happy spectrum doesn't positively shift due to fulfilling goals, but pursuing goals actually shifts you negatively along this axis.

I suspect, using McGilchrist's words, there's a tendency for the Left Hemisphere to be very "graspy" towards goals. And most goal literature is written from that mindset or accidentally encourages that.

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> people act as if one bucket can help solve the other bucket.

sometimes it does work and other times it doesn't.

it's not an exact science

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Also I see that your three factors of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose closely resemble self determination theory’s three factors


I personally find these three factors useful but not enough as I tend to interpret them closer to meaning factors as per Herzburg’s

Another similar motivation theory like SDT but with more factors is David Rock’s SCARF

as in Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness

I kinda combine all three (SDT, SCARF, Herzberg’s) to make sense of what I care about

So SDT + SCARF gives me about 6 factors because autonomy and relatedness are repeated in both

Status I divide into internal and external

Internal status for me is driven by mastery

External status is driven by credentials and humble brags

Then I broadly group these 6 or 7 ( if you split status into internal and external ) into hygiene and meaning as per Herzberg

Finally I don’t see these factors only as goals or objectives to aim at for my ideal lifestyle. I see them more like there’s a minimal threshold I need in each of these 7 factors

And the minimum threshold in these factors may change as I grow older

Every time I feel depressed, it’s usually because one or more factors I am not hitting the bare minimum to be ok

Then there’s another threshold in each factor for me to feel I’m living at an optimal level

So these minimum threshold levels are more like constraints to meet or exceed rather than outright goals to aim at

I know I sound like I’m describing myself as a character in SIMCITY video game with different bar charts 📊 but it’s a very useful way for me to think that way 😅

All of this is based on felt sense so I have to learn how to trust myself even when it doesn’t seem logical to other people

And I’m getting better at this over time

One thing I have discovered over time is my minimum level for autonomy is higher than your average person

Initially I resisted this interpretation but over time I realized no point fighting against my inner nature

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Going with my other comment, I don't think the happy spectrum is positively affected by quantifies goals. Going a little deeper, I think that's because they would be taken over by Moloch. I think instead McGilchrist's right brain is the key to the happy spectrum relates to and McGilchrist's left brain is the key to the unhappy spectrum.

I got Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose from Daniel Pink's Drive. He uses them as the factors of motivation but I think when you have these attributes, you also have creativity and when you have creativity you have these three attributes. Unsure of the direction of causality.

I like the threshold idea. They are all necessary but not sufficient as individual levers.

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I think when we force autonomy mastery and purpose on to a job most people are just lying that they found it too!

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I have tried lying to myself as well even when I work for myself

It never works. Your internal “elephant” knows

See Jonathan Haidt’s analogy for context abt this internal elephant https://www.creativehuddle.co.uk/post/the-elephant-and-the-rider

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Ok I found a copy of Pink's.

Here's the sequence

In chapter 2 he introduced the difference of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

In chapter 3 he introduced self-determination theory (Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness) which focused on intrinsic motivation.

And Meyer Friedman's Type A/B and McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y view of management. Both are similar.

Then in his own words, he came up with his own Type I (I as in Intrinsic) against Type X in McGregor's

“So with a hoist from Meyer Friedman onto the shoulders of Douglas McGregor, I'd like to introduce my own alphabetic way to think about human motivation.”

And his Type I then contains his Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

In other words, he kinda did his version of Bruce Lee's "Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own."

A few observations:

1. SDT focuses primarily on intrinsic. No wonder I felt SCARF has more factors.

2. It would appear that Pink took the same three factors of SDT and modified the last two terms of Competence and Relatedness to be broader and rename the words to be sharper by changing them to Mastery and Purpose

3. He positioned these 3 in the context of the more popular TypeA/B and Theory X/Y in management science which is why he said this is Type I.

It would appear that he was targeting executives who have to manage people by repackaging SDT for executives, managers, and leaders.

Now that I re-read it thanks to this conversation, I feel even more justified to do my own version of cobbling together existing literature to build my own model of motivation.

If Pink can do it, why can't I? :D

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I have the book Drive and read it before

Not sure where it went but I am 90% sure his autonomy mastery purpose also came from self determination theory

I like drive

the argument is similar to Herzberg two factor

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I am not entirely sure if the unhappy spectrum maps to left hemisphere or happy spectrum maps to right hemisphere but I feel you’re onto something there.

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