Humans crave autonomy.
We want to feel that we decide what we do, what we think and what we believe. That we are in control of our own destiny. That we choose how we’re going to make our dent. That we plough our own furrow.
We want to be free. Whatever that means. And we need ‘a structured, meaningful world’ to be free in, otherwise autonomy becomes drift.
Drift is OK, actually, (‘Consider the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin’), but given the ability and the opportunity, most of us prefer to think and act, and try to poke the envelope. But you can’t poke the envelope, without the envelope.
I think we may have work all wrong. We all work all the time, even when it looks like drifting. Paid work, what we’re used to calling ‘work’, is just one of our envelopes.
So if we want people to do better work, we need to offer an envelope worth poking.
The great thing is that when we do, everyone becomes more free.