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How to harness your inner drive

 

Your inner drive is that feeling of determination deep inside that encourages you to carry on even when you’ve lost your motivation. It’ll help you to persevere even if the odds are stacked against you, and it’ll propel you to keep going beyond others. It’s often the difference between success and failure. Most people with an intense inner drive fail more than others, but they dust themselves off and keep going.

As an Executive Search Consultant, this is an area that really interests me. It’s one of the reasons I’m keen to understand people’s failures and dig into what they did after each setback. Normally, I find that our inner drive is formed in our early years.

When I ask the leaders/future leaders that I interview, “Where does your drive come from?”, the answers that I get can usually be put into two broad categories:

A negative place – an adult telling you “You’ll never amount to anything” can be a catalyst for developing fierce determination to prove them wrong, helping you to overcome adversity.

Or a positive place – a nurturing environment where you are allowed to fail at pursuits, focus on the learning/improvement process and develop a growth mindset. It’s generally ingrained in you from a young age that “if you’re going to do something, do it properly.”

How to leverage it

Dan Pink’s book, “Drive.” In it, he talks about leveraging motivation & drive, highlighting three key drivers:

Autonomy

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” If your aim is to develop a team of driven individuals, you need to give them space, support, and autonomy. They need to feel empowered to make decisions. It’s often the case that in failing companies, there is no autonomy in the teams, and people feel like every decision needs to go through one person.

Mastery

“The desire to get better at something that matters can be a more powerful motivator than money.” If you’re in a job that you truly enjoy, you’ll not wait for development opportunities. You’ll go out there and actively find them. Another question that I ask people is “What did you learn last week?” – it gives me an idea if they’re serious about their own development and if they have given themselves the headspace to reflect on what they’ve achieved.

Purpose

“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another.”

Purpose is the most challenging aspect of Motivation 3.0 – it relies on having a leader who can help link everyone’s objectives to the overall company purpose. A good example of this is the story of President Kennedy touring NASA Space Centre in 1962. President Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said:

“Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy, what are you doing?”

The janitor responded: “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr President.”

The janitor understands the importance of his contribution. He truly felt he was a valuable part of something bigger than himself, and his attitude created a feeling of self-confidence in his mission. He wasn’t merely a janitor; he was a member of the 1962 NASA Space Team.

Pink’s model, Motivation 3.0, focuses on helping people to become intrinsically motivated – that is, using internal drivers for motivation. He calls this behaviour “Type I.” It contrasts with the traditional model of extrinsic motivation or “Type X” behaviour, which focuses on motivating people through reward and punishment, aka “the carrot and stick approach.”

Although Inner Drive tends to be formed in our childhoods, the right working environment can influence and encourage drive and motivation significantly. For it to be really successful, it requires ensuring you have the right people in the right seats and there is a clear vision & purpose for the organisation.

Written by Michael Hewitt.


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