Know your drivers taxi

Know your Drivers

I wrote this article about knowing your drivers about a year ago and forgot about it. As I moved my blog over to this new site I found it again. Enjoy!


In an earlier (much earlier)  post, I said that I might do a short post on “knowing your drivers.”  Well, by “might,” I meant that “I will,” and by “short,” I meant “long.”

Taxi cabFirst, let me explain the word “drivers.”  For those of you interested in finding out how to get to know the people in a taxi-cab or how to make friends with a limo driver, you’ll need to look elsewhere.  I’m talking about what “drives” you to do something.  This is about motivation, and being aware of what motivates you.

High Need for Achievement

Personally, one of my bigger drivers is a need for achievement.  I feel most comfortable when I’m accomplishing something or completing a significant task.

BYU Anti-Human-Trafficking Club Logo
BYU Anti-Human Trafficking Club
One of my most cherished involvements


This driver has some obvious advantages.  It makes me work hard and get involved with things.  Such as when I first came to college and quickly got involved with several campus clubs and leadership activities.  I was more comfortable and happy doing that than relaxing or watching a movie.

It also forces me to accept little less than my best.  Even when giving something my best provides little or no additional value than a lesser effort, it doesn’t seem right, nor quite as satisfying, as just smashing the task right-out.


Wife and kids outlineThis driver has some serious side-effects that I need to consciously mitigate.  It can be easy to neglect family and other social relations as I try to accomplish things at work or in other environments.  I’ve heard numerous accounts of people getting so caught up in high impact, achievement filled careers that they end up divorced from their spouse and hated by their children.  I don’t think that many of them planned that into their life, I think they got caught up in what drove their action and didn’t recognize the need to take control of, and redirect their motivation.

Video games ruined my life, but I have two extra livesThis driver, oddly enough, can also lead to getting caught-up in silly games that offer instant “achievement.”  Let’s face it, real-life achievement takes time and work, but beating a video game can be quick, and just difficult enough to feel like you did something significant.  Especially when it comes to online games that involve other people.

This driver can also lead people to be unkind to others in an effort to reach higher levels of achievement, or gain a perception of having achieved some sort of higher plain.  Similarly, it may lead to hostility towards others who have already achieved more.

Possible Solutions

You may have noticed the trend that this driver seems to be detrimental in social relations.  Social relations don’t naturally come with easy indicators that satisfy one driven by achievement.  That doesn’t mean that they can’t be made, however.  I’ve noticed that as I’ve made efforts to consider people as the highest peak that I can more naturally live and love.  If you’re driven by achievement, make sure you focus your achievement on what you truly value and believe you will value looking back on your life on your deathbed.

Otherwise, you may be barking up the wrong tree.
Clayton Christiansen actually has a whole book on this subject called “How Will You Measure Your Life,” but you can also watch his TEDxBoston talk on it here.

Social Interaction


Social butterfly
A butterfly (the social kind)

Some people seem to be quite driven to have many and good social interactions.  This can be great!  For one thing, it strengthens their personal network.  These will often be the people who will always have a friend, who will always have a job, and who will always have someone to bounce ideas off of.

This also helps other people who are less naturally driven by social situations feel great and have a chance to be social.  Everyone needs at least a few people, and those that seek social interaction are sometimes the ones most likely (though not always best fitted) to offer that opportunity to someone less socially adept.


Problems come when social acceptance seems to require sacrificing other things, first of which being moral standards.  A person driven highly by having social interaction may feel greater pressure to give-in if a friend or group of friends invites him or her to do drugs or engage in other activities otherwise against the person’s moral conscious.

Calvin and Hobbes sleeping on a tree

People highly driven by social interaction may also become easily distracted by social activities when the time comes to do actual work.  I talked to one friend who described his schedule freshman year.  Sleep until 1pm, then go hang with the friends that got done with school around 1.  By about 5, they would be done doing stuff, but the studious friends would be back at the dorms and ready for fun.  Then he would hang with the really crazy friends until 4 or 5 in the morning.  Then sleep until 1.  He said (and his GPA attested) that he only went to about 2 classes a week, and failed tests by just not knowing he had to go to them.  Fortunately, he got his act together just in time to have a productive college experience and land a job he was satisfied with.

Possible Solutions

I would guess that finding many friends who offer positive social support would help protect against morality.  I don’t know how to help people living in extremely small towns with few options, and I doubt that Facebook or other online interaction would sufficiently satisfy someone heavy on this driver, so…just try your best.  If all else fails, God is the best friend anyway.

Forming study groups or finding work that involves social interaction can help with the other problem.  Find ways to channel the social desire into activities that you would otherwise find mundane.

Needing To Be Right


I have a good bit of this in me as well, but I think most of it comes from my need for achievement (being right is one form of achievement.)  I most frequently find people with this driver in the hard sciences field (this is not a representative social study, so neither you nor I can assume that this observation holds true across the science community.)

Nuclear reactor schematic plan
If these plans wont work, let someone know…

Despite the disclaimer, I would assume that people that need to be right would resultantly study hard and consume higher amounts of information in order to be capable of being right.  This is very good.

These people also seem to be good at defending their positions or finding inconsistencies in other positions.  We really do need this in the world.  Without some form of “thesis—antithesis,” we will miss a lot of truth (hence my willingness to accept comments and feedback on the stuff I write.)  If no one is willing to point out a flaw on the design for a nuclear reactor, somebody is going to get hurt.If no one gives difficult feedback, no one improves nearly as well as they would otherwise.


When it comes to dealing with people, “being right” isn’t always right.  People are flawed, and embrace their own flaws, and unless one can embrace other’s flaws too, not a lot of love can pass between.  How many times have our parents told us that “it doesn’t matter who’s right, just go say you’re sorry”?

This driver can also make it difficult to accept a new position when it requires accepting that a prior one was wrong.  Sometimes a person can have their position or way of thinking completely shattered, and know that it’s in shambles, and still maintain that they had it down already.

Possible Solutions

Like the other drivers, focus on channeling the energy to where it should go.  Recognize that when it comes to social interactions, the way to “be right” is sometimes to “be wrong.”  Sometimes being right has nothing to do with right or wrong, but just making someone happy.

As for accepting new positions, it seems that mature people driven by being right can accept new “rightness” as being a greater benefit than the cost of accepting prior “wrongness.”  I would like to find a better way to channel this driver into part of accepting prior “wrongness,” but the best way may just be to avoid it altogether and fully embrace your greater “rightness.”

Fun and Leisure


People driven by a high need to have fun or enjoy leisure time can often do a great job of balancing others.  By initiating fun, those of us driven to keep achieving stuff can be cajoled to enjoy some of the good times and stop and smell the roses.  These people can teach you how to laugh and stay happy.

Spongebob and Plankton funThey also make life significantly more interesting.  These are the people who are often capable of inventing and coming up with innovative ideas.  Fun needs to be new or at least renewed in some way, and our best way at creating new is through associative thinking (see the book by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregerson, and Clayton Christiansen: The Innovator’s DNA.)  Indeed, without them we might not have so man leisure creating machines.  I’ve read about ideas that the black plague helped kick-start the ideas for labor saving devices since it caused so much disruption that people stopped and enjoyed leisure.  When the time came to work again, they preferred the leisure they had before, and had motivation to find ways to get it again.


This can easily lead to shirking work.  If you want leisure, and you can have leisure now by not working, it may be hard to understand why working now for leisure later would be any better.  Relatedly, I imagine gluttony could become a problem.  The conservative frequently warn against too much laziness, and it doesn’t seem like it takes too much to cross the line.

Also, umm.  It may…um.  I guess it might make it hard to get into the Navy Seals or something.  I feel like I need another negative.  So, there it is.  The Navy Seals don’t seem like they’re too fun-loving when their on the job.

Possible Solutions

Try to find the fun in what would otherwise be the work.  Also, recognize that the value in leisure isn’t doing nothing as much as being able to do the things that you prefer to do.  Often, work and sacrifice is required before the best leisure can be obtained, and the most fun can be had.

And, um…don’t be a Navy Seal.  Unless you think it’s fun.

Other Things

Obviously there are more things that drive you (I’m interested to know what drives all of you.)  And there are far better studies and books on this topic (I think the Color Code covers this a bit.  Let me know if you know of others in the comments or by emailing me.)  But now there’s also a blog post about it.  Achievement done.

So make sure you take a step back and recognize what really drives you.  You might think that it’s ugly (it’s not necessarily easy to confess that I often achieve stuff simply because I like achieving stuff.  How uninspiring.)  But without accepting that that part of you exists, you wont be prepared to take the necessary steps to mitigate its potential negative effects.  Acceptance has always been the first step.

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  1. Mark 21 June, 2014 at 23:46 Reply

    Kyle!! I love your blog and I’m still trying to figure out my own “drivers” in life! Keep up the great insights! I will follow your blog forever!!

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