Understanding What Drives You

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.   — Terry Orlick

The most powerful force in leadership, sales, and change is you. Consider how much of your life you have spent acquiring an education. It requires at least 16 years of school to earn an undergraduate degree! In all of that time spent learning, how much of that was devoted to gaining an understanding of who you are? I am not talking about report cards or assessments. Education and experience are worthless if you don’t first understand who you are and what drives you. A dentist cannot be successful if he has no desire to be a dentist anymore than an executive can effectively lead an organization without an interest in the company or respect for his coworkers. Metaphorically speaking, the education, certifications, and products are like cargo in need of transport. You are the ship that can transport the cargo to its destination. Before it can leave the harbor, you need to make sure the ship floats, has fuel, and has a destination. Loading the cargo on a sinking ship is as worthless as sending it on a directionless or unsuitable course. It is also important to put care and attention into the ship to ensure that its performance is as efficient and productive as possible.

Have you ever felt like a job or position you held was not meeting your needs or was not a “good fit?” Perhaps you are currently facing such a situation. Or maybe a personal relationship is faltering or strained. The critical component of success in any endeavor is an understanding of who you are. To this point, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said:

The misery that oppresses you lies not in your profession but in yourself! What man in the world would not find his situation intolerable if he chooses a craft, an art, indeed any form of life, without experiencing an inner calling? Whoever is born with a talent, or to a talent, must surely find in that the most pleasing of occupations! Everything on this earth has its difficult sides! Only some inner drive—pleasure, love—can help us overcome obstacles, prepare a path, and lift us out of the narrow circle in which others tread out their anguished, miserable existences!

In spite of the fact that I had a strong sense of my goals and aspirations from an early age, it took me 12 years to fully align with my true passion. At various points in my career I faced roadblocks that temporarily steered me off course. Similar to my experience, many of us aren’t fully aware of our predispositions or passions in the early stages of our lives. We begin as explorers, trying to search for meaning and fulfillment as experience slowly reveals our passions and enables us to develop strengths. Unfortunately, people often experience weakness and immediately assume they lack the ability or aptitude to be successful in that particular area. They readily accept this feedback as a limitation and conform to a line of more comfortable fit. All too often, these weaknesses cause more than just a path adjustment because they fail to embrace the reality that every vice has a virtue, and that their weaknesses can become their greatest strengths. Weaknesses are opportunities for growth, not justification for submission.

Every [person] comes into the world with a predisposition to grow along certain lines, and growth is easier for him along those lines than in any other way.   — Wallace Wattles

A great metaphor is the bamboo tree. Certain species of bamboo have been known to take as long as 5 years after planting to grow above the surface. During this period, the rhizome or root system spreads by as much as 15 feet per year. What is more impressive is that the same tree has been known to grow as much as 98 inches in a single 24-hour period. In other words, these trees spend most of their energy on areas that don’t appear, at least on the surface, to be productive. To the untrained eye, it might even appear that the plant is a failure. However, the massive infrastructure under the ground captures more water and nutrients than any other plant, making it able to accomplish exponentially more production (growth) in the same amount of time.

Investing in the process of understanding your natural abilities and predispositions is similar to tending to a tree that is expanding its root system. As we take time to invest in understanding ourselves, our approach to experience will evolve and we will rapidly progress towards our fulfillment. As simple as that may sound, such introspective discovery can be difficult at times and may require the help of someone trained in conducting appropriate evaluations. Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources available to help you explore your natural talents and predispositions as well as actionable steps to capitalize on the information you discover.

Speaking of resources, I’d like to invite you to visit the following link http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp and take a few minutes to complete the free online questionnaire. I found this test (Myers-Briggs) at a very low point in my career. I was discouraged and completely lost with respect to my skills and vocation. When I read my results, every doubt and fear was replaced with liberating perspective and validation. I realized that I hadn’t failed! Instead, I had become misaligned with my natural abilities and talents. Reading the results of that test was probably the single greatest perspective shift of my entire life. So please trust me and take the test. When you are done, send your name and your results to brad@foundersinc.com. Once I receive your email, I would be happy to respond with a few resources that you can use to gain a powerful understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and much more. It only takes a few minutes and you might discover something that changes your entire world as it did for me.

I hope to hear from you soon.

BRAD HARKER is a professional speaker, sales consultant, and author of The Laws of Influence (www.thelawsofinfluence.com). Through the creation of several companies and more than a quarter-billion dollars in sales, Brad has developed an ideology that anyone, regardless of profession, can leverage to discover their potential, align with their purpose, and realize their goals. Learn more at www.foundersinc.com

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