I think it might be.
You might not agree but I feel that the next few minutes could have a profound effect upon your life.
Why are you successful sometimes and not at others? Why do you have periods when you are you happy with your lot and at other times not? Why do you feel like everything is on track and at other times you feel your life is off the rails?
Welcome to the world of personal drivers.
If your drivers are being met you will be more successful and happier because your internal needs are being satisfied. It’s about what you need as a person but at a very deep level – it’s not about the next pay rise or holiday abroad or 10 minute mile.
So what use are they in the real world?
When you need to make a decision simply assess which of the available options best feeds your drivers and then choose that one. It’s more likely to be the right choice for you.
We enjoy doing those things that meet our drivers so we do them longer, harder and better leading to even more success.
When things aren’t going well for you or you just feel a bit cheesed off with your lot check which are of your drivers are not being fed and it will give you some idea of how to fix your situation.
Here’s the bad news though: that’s pretty much all I can give you because it’s not my field. However, I do have a couple of suggestions which should help you to at least begin discovering your drivers. Before that though here are mine (he said laying himself bare before his readers).
These caused me to like squash more than water polo; become obsessed with programming (won a nationwide prize for it!); take up bricklaying as a hobby but preferred using recycled bricks; built a successful recruitment business in the 90′s but failed to do the same again in the naughties and finally to end up as a business development consultant.
- I need to be in a place of discovery: I like new things: challenges; people; places and experiences. I can’t stand the status quo for any length of time.
- I need to be on a journey: I like it when I know where I’ve been, where I am now and where I’m going. I need to be on a mission; a man-with-a-plan.
- I need to make things that work: building something that, when it’s complete, actually does something really hits the spot for me.
- I need to renovate and improve: I like to take something that doesn’t work very well and reinvigorate it so that it does.
- I need recognition and to be valued: I’m not proud of this but I need external validation such as being paid for what I do, having my achievements recognised and affirmation that I am good at what I do. I see this a weakness in myself.
- I need to be good at what I do: If I can’t be good, or better yet great, at something I’m not interested in doing it.
- I need to leave a legacy: it’s like “Mike Ames was here”. Leaving my mark on whatever I am involved with.
Underpinning these drivers is my Foundation driver that has to be in place all the time: -
- I need familiarity and security: I absolutely have to have my back to the wall. Mrs Ames says that’s why we’re still married after 30 years when my drivers would suggest that I should have been a flighty piece. I think she’s right.
So all I can offer you is chapter 5 on needs, passions and talents in Stephen Covey’s otherwise less than inspiring book The 8th Habit of Highly Effective People. Not worth buying it for that though – borrow a copy if you can.
Alternatively, you could make a list of everything that you were successful at and enjoyed (the two usually go hand-in-hand) and another that you were terrible at and hated. Start from your earliest recollections (our drivers don’t really change) and come to the present time.
Then look for common needs being met/ignored in each list; it takes time (about 9 months in my case) but you will find them. Then you can test them out by taking situations and seeing whether your drivers were being met or not. Keep reiterating this cycle of observation and testing and eventually you will arrive at an accurate definition of what drives you. Well worth the investment of time and effort if you ask me.
Find your drivers and it will change how you make decisions and ultimately how happy and successful you’ll be.
So was it the most important post I’ve ever published I wonder?
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
These words propagate the status quo, suppress change and create a whole world of “can’t do” so should be avoided whenever possible.
- If I could just get that job/lose weight/pass that exam/win that client my life would be so much better.
- If I can find some time I am going to get on top of my Inbox and keep it that way.
- If you want me to do that I will have to have this, that and the other in place first.
- When I get time that’s the next thing I’m going to do
- When I have read up on social media I will join LinkedIn and get connected.
- When you’re as old as me you don’t need to follow the rules.
- I hear what you’re saying BUT that does not apply to me.
- That is a great idea BUT……
- I can see what you’re suggesting is right for most places BUT it just won’t work here.
When you feel the need to use any of these cop-out words think again: is what you’re saying true or could it be down to the threat of losing control, laziness, fear of change or just because it wasn’t your idea in the first place. Instead why not try a different answer like “how could we”, “why don’t we” or “what if we did this”.
Answers are everything. It’s better work towards them than stand in the way of their discovery.
Here’s a funny thing. A friend of mine recently implemented an enormous Internet based computer system for his client a large retail company in the UK. His team had worked miracles to deliver the thing within the expected time and budget constraints and he was both proud of, and deeply grateful for, their efforts.
So instead of attending a Friday management briefing he took them out to the pub and bought them a celebratory lunch that “ran over” a little. The team were highly delighted, his management colleagues were not.
I’ll tell you why this story connected with me: this kind of gesture is no longer common in corporate Britain. I’m not talking about a celebratory lunch, necessarily, but rather any kind of celebration for a job well done.
When I was in recruitment we regularly treated ourselves with anything from a cream cake to an afternoon off and a taxi ride home depending upon the scale of our victory and we weren’t the only ones to do so. I’m not sure that recruitment is anywhere near as much fun these days.
So why don’t we celebrate as much as we should?
For starters I think everything we do at work happens at 100 mph with very little time to spare for anything that is not screaming at us, poking us in the ribs or just about to collide with us.
Like many people I do more than one job; in fact I do 4: salesman, consultant, researcher and author. Also like a lot of people there is always something I could be doing, knock a few more things off the to-do list and try and get ahead of the game.
“Another sale, great. On to the next” This cannot be right so here’s 5 reasons to celebrate: -
- It’s enjoyable – celebrating victories is great fun and life is meant to be fun isn’t it?
- People need recognition – it’s one of the 3 key basic needs human beings require in order to feed their souls.
- Team spirit – even if everybody knows that they have done a good job having the boss demonstrate this lifts morale and helps team spirit.
- Breaks the slog – one thing relentlessly following another in some sort of corporate production line. Nah!
- Incentives – do a great job and get something nice. Can this really have an effect?
I vividly recall having a discussion at school with Mr Orme, one of my very favourite teachers ever, on the subject of regret. He had been in the Eighth Army in North Africa during the second world war and had suddenly found himself in Cairo with some free time.
Now I love history especially ancient Egyptian history so was keen to hear what he had seen and done in that magical land. But it turned out that one of the biggest regrets of his life stemmed from that very visit. He and a friend had decided to head over to the Great Pyramid and climb it right to the top, something he’d always wanted to do.
When they arrived they were confronted by a local “guide” who offered to lead them to the top for a shilling. Now, these were young British soldiers who had just seen off Rommel and the might of the Africa Corps and all they were faced with now was a big pile of stone. They were at the bottom and could see the top so who needs a guide. What a rip-off!
By the time they had to leave they were soaked in sweat, very irritable and less than a third of the way to the top. He never went back to the pyramids and always deeply regretted not paying his shilling and achieving his dream.
I think we have all faced the same dilemma as Mr Orme: hire the expert or attempt to do it ourselves. Of course our decision is going to be influenced by money, time, expertise and maybe even personal ego and we sometimes have no choice but to go it alone.
But when something is important my advice is pay the money, take the advice and see the world from the top of the pyramid. No regrets!
In 1954 Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile; an achievement most people at the time considered to be impossible. Barely 6 weeks later this record was broken again by a Finn and within 12 months another 3 runners had bettered that revered time. The current world record stands at a very impressive 3 minutes 43 seconds.
So did people suddenly become so much fitter? Well these days with the benefit of hyper-training routines, computerized performance analysis and stringent diets they clearly are but in the mid fifties I doubt whether any of these factors had an effect. The difference was all psychological; a condition not just restricted to athletics I feel.
The other day I was doing some coaching with a salesman. We got around to talking about targets at which point he made the alarming statement that he was aiming for 80% of his target because that was the lowest figure allowed before people were asked to seek their fortune elsewhere. I was more shocked than Carlo Ancelotti after the Wolves game (we won you know).
If the 4 minute mile tells us anything it is that targets are for the most part arbitrary and their achievement mostly controlled by psychological factors. As soon as you focus on a goal and believe it to be achievable you are much more likely to reach it.
80% pah! I say aim for 150%, or more, and apply all your efforts and powers of creativity to make it a reality. It is our beliefs not our abilities that dictate our level of success.