What drives people to succeed? What prompts people to do what they do – and try to do it better over time? And to compete and do it better than others? Try searching online and you’ll find that it’s the kind of question that prompts a lot of inquiries; depending on how you look, it could be in the tens of millions. Clearly, trying to understand what motivates people is one of those elemental questions. Some people look at successful people and try to figure it out that way. There are thousands of books to help.
Back in the middle of the last century, Abraham Maslow looked at things more fundamentally and proposed a “hierarchy of needs” – the things that motivate behavior. He suggested that people start with certain basic “physiological” motivations (basics like food, shelter, clothing, etc.) and they then proceed up the ladder to finally reach what he called “self-actualization” (spiritual/emotional motivations like values, faith, helping others, etc.) In the years that followed there’s been a lot of debate and criticism about the model. The reality is that it’s hard to find something that fits everyone.
Rather than try to establish some set of universal truths, perhaps it’s best to look inward. I am sure that each of you can point to things that keep you focused. For me, the types of projects in which I’m involved provide a clue. Event ‘firefighting’, launching events, and sales are all high pressure, time-sensitive, mentally taxing, and extremely stressful. There are times when circumstances reach the point at which I’d just like to give up.
Despite any difficulties I encounter, I never quit. Why not?
* Is it the challenge of pulling through when things are difficult? Yes.
* Is it the need to make money? Yes.
* Is it the need to expand my horizons and test myself? Yes.
But while all those incentives are true, they are not the biggest reason. The biggest reason is right next to me as I write this piece. It’s my daughter Annabelle.
I find that even when I find myself in the toughest situations, super stressed and beset with despair as to whether things can be worked out, picking up my daughter can make those difficulties fade away.
Who or what does it for you? As I have gotten older, it’s the people, not the things that make the tough things worth doing.
Is it the same for you?