Driven to Success

What drives us to work and achieve? According to Harvard Business School professors Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria in their new book, Driven, there are four innate drives that grew out of human evolution:

  1. The drive to acquire objects and experiences
  2. The drive to defend our loved ones, ideas, objects, and experiences
  3. The drive to bond with other people in loving and working relationships
  4. The drive to learn and make sense of the world

These closely mirror four of the five core values I identified in Motivate Everyone:

  1. The drive to acquire objects is about getting or having Things (Achiever). The drive to acquire experiences is about Activities or doing (Doer).
  2. The drive to defend is about avoiding or solving difficulties (Problem Solver)
  3. The drive to bond is about People and relating. 
  4. The drive to learn is about Knowledge - learning
  5. I also suspect there is a drive to understand ourselves. It's about Places and states of being. Perhaps that's just a subset of learning.

Evaluate for yourself if these drives, these values, make sense. Isn't marketing and advertising about getting/having or avoiding the loss of something? Doesn't most marketing encourage bonding: personal or professional bonding of some kind? Doesn't most marketing inform us about features and benefits of products or services?

So if you want to motivate someone to action, you'll want to know which of these drives or values is key to their motivation. It's so simple; all you have to do is ask someone:
"What's important to you about ______?"
What's important to you about work? Relationships? Cars (if you're selling cars)? Vacation (if you're selling R&R)?

If you ask me: "What's important about your work?" I'd say: "Helping people live better lives by upgrading their mental software." If you dissect my answer, it's about people, achieving, and learning. Given this answer, it should be no surprise that I like to author, speak, train and consult.

Get the idea? If I were your employee and you wanted to motivate me to work on a project, just describe how the project will "help people live better lives by upgrading their mental software." When people give you a phrase, use it, because it's the phrase that pays!

If you ask me: "What's important about your car?" I'd say it has to be reliable-it avoids or minimizes failure. Notice it's not about status or knowledge or people. To sell me a car, you'd want to talk about the car's reliability, not who's going to ride in the car (people), how I'll look (status), or all of the gadgetry (thing/learn). You might want to mention the dependability and warranty, but remember, I said: "reliable." That's the word I've got hooked to what I value in a car. Just keep using that word over and over until I've associated it with your car.

Consider asking yourself this question: What's important about _____? Once you know what you value, what drives you, you'll be in a position to fuel your own passion. You'll also be able to defend against other people using your values to trick you into action.

Group Influence
If you're trying to motivate a group, you might consider that a group or team will have all of these values. So you might talk about a new project in terms of all of these drives:
"On this project, we'll learn some new and interesting stuff that will enable us to connect directly with more customers, achieve greater goals, and prevent additional problems."

Get the idea? Tailor part of your message to each drive in your audience.

So don't think about what you can achieve and the problems you can prevent by learning how to use these drives to ethically motivate the people around you to action.

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