A Critical Element of Leadership: Drive
What is drive? Are you born with it, or is it acquired at an early age? Can we still develop it as an adult? What if we think we just don’t have any, at all?
Out of the five elements of leadership (character, self-leadership, drive, judgment, influence), drive can be the most confusing. I think of drive as a relentless pursuit to achieve a goal or fulfill a purpose. Some say that you're either born with it, or you just don’t have it.
I disagree. While drive can be a hardwired trait, it can also be developed if we are willing to do some hard work.
Most people have a backstory that connects to their drivenness. For example, I grew up in a home that often had conflict, but it wasn’t resolved in the most healthy ways. As a result, none of us were thriving. But as I got older and experienced working with a variety of people, I began to develop a passion for addressing conflict in healthy ways. Over time, people began to seek me out to help them address various conflicts. I see how, because my own life map is full of various forms of dysfunction, I am driven to help people and organizations to be healthy.
One amazing leader I know leads an organization that daily serves over 800 adults with special needs. It sort of started with a diagram she drew while sitting in Starbucks talking with friends—but it really started when she was in a car accident that had a life-changing physical impact on her son. She was determined to provide great care and support for him. Her drive really kicked in when he was a senior in high school and had very few options for support after graduation.
My lead pastor has a huge drive to help people follow Jesus. He grew up in a church that was very concerned with teaching but somewhat weak when it came to helping people come to know Jesus. He had family members who weren’t Jesus followers, and his passion for helping people like his family members shapes how he leads and communicates. God used that drive to help his father and brother come to know Jesus, and to know Him well.
Drive is usually connected to one’s passions and uniqueness. That uniqueness comes from your wiring and your story. A healthy drive requires an understanding of your story, core values, strengths, and passions. When we do the work to discover these things, we can align them and see our drive increase in healthy ways.
If we don’t do the work to discover and align these things, we will tend to bounce around with little effect and with consistent frustration.
Here are a few steps to help you discover and develop drive:
1. Do a life map exercise.
Start by brainstorming the significant hard times, traumas, high points, heroes, and accomplishments for each five-year segment of your life. This will take some time. Next, put the events into chronological order. Beginning with the first memory or event, represent them on a blank piece of paper or a life map template with a simple doodle, drawing, or descriptive phrase. This step will also take some time, but you will likely begin to see some trends and patterns in the process. I always suggest sharing your life map with a friend soon after you create it.
2. Determine your five core values.
What words would you want to be used to describe you at your funeral? These will likely be some of your core values. Core values serve as guides and boundaries for how you navigate life and make decisions. For one approach to determining your core values, look here.
3. Identify your personal strengths.
One great way to help figure out your strengths is by asking others who have known you for a significant period of time for feedback. Talk with friends and co-workers whom you trust and respect, and find out what they think your strengths are. And take time to observe what you most enjoy doing over the course of a week or two, looking for patterns in what you think you have done well. CliftonStrengths (formerly known as Clifton Strengthsfinder) is just one of many good online tools that can help with this process.
4. Figure out your passions—the things that you care most deeply about.
Passion and drive are best friends, so identify your enduring passions, and drive will be close by. Here are a few questions to help you figure out your passions.
These four exercises take time and are best done with a few other people who are seeking to grow in their understanding of themselves. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes a conversation or two is all we need to get back on track when we get stuck in the process.
I pray you take time to align your life map discoveries, your core values, your strengths and your passions so that you can tap into your drive and flourish. I am for you and cheering you on in this pursuit!
Needing some extra input in your leadership journey? Reach out to Jack at [email protected] to get connected to a leadership coach.