I recently asked on my Linkedin status bar whether you were driven or called? This is an interesting concept I picked up from Gordon Macdonald's book, Ordering your Private World, which won't be to everyone's taste in its evangelical fervour, but still contains some very insightful comments. I particularly liked Gordon's description of the eight characteristics of being driven. Clearly, being driven is not good. So, as we enter 2011, and you consider your new year's resolutions, ask yourself, do these apply to me, and should I resolve to stop being driven, and find my calling?
First, driven people are usually only gratified by accomplishment. It is that point at which the 'psychology of achievement' become all pervasive. When I first heard Brian Tracy's audio set of the same name it was eye opening and deeply refreshing; but since, I have met too many people who are wholly preoccupied with achievement – and nothing else. There is in this situation, then, no process along the way, only results.
Second, these same people tend to be preoccupied with symbols of their accomplishment: obsessions with status, titles, privileges and perhaps, most tellingly, knowing other 'greats' so that one feels recognised as well as connected.
Third, driven people are often caught in the uncontrolled pursuit of expansion. A book I recently endorsed on my Linkedin profile is Bo Burlingham's 'Small Giants'. This book epitomises the exact opposite of the uncontrolled pursuit of expansion: these were CEOs who rather than become corporate and bigger and blander decided to develop value propositions and keep their businesses relatively small and distinctive. Hurrah! How are you expanding?
Fourth, and perhaps controversially, driven people tend to have a limited regard for integrity. It's fine to talk about and practise it until it gets in the way of achievement or of expansion. This was all too evident with Enron, the banks and countless other wannabe giants of the business world.
Fifth, driven people often possess limited or undeveloped people skills. As Gordon Macdonald observes: the pursuit of their goals invariably leaves a 'trail of bodies'. They get a reputation for 'getting things done', but usually at a terrible future, rather than immediate, cost. They move on to the next project before all the consequences – people consequences – of their current work have fully materialised.
Sixth, driven people tend to be highly competitive. This sounds good – sometimes being competitive is – but unfortunately it works against the single most effective way of being effective: namely, team work. Further, it drives out co-operation and creativity, since by its nature it has no time for subtleties.
Seventh, driven people tend to get angry quickly and unreasonably when they are opposed, or questioned, or in some way feel another is being disloyal. People often put up with unacceptable behaviour from a driven person because, they reason, this persons gets things done! However, as with all passivity and appeasement, there is a price to pay.
Eighth, and finally, driven people are “abnormally busy”. This is, perhaps, the characteristic that I personally like the least: the unremitting sense of endless and pointless work; the not being able to simply enjoy life and relax; the inability to go into silence and meditate. Of course, it is a 'killer' characteristic: eventually, if you remain a driven person, you die when you had death 'least in mind'.
It could be argued that such drivenness arises precisely as a human defence against ever thinking of death; all religious traditions advise that we do contemplate our end, not from morbidity or sadness, but in order to understand how to really live and enjoy our lives now.
Thus – 20011 is tomorrow – are you driven or called? If driven – what are you going to resolve?