As infants we are totally and utterly dependant on the love, affection, care and acceptance of our parents and caregivers. As such we develop an awareness for certain types of behaviours in which we will be praised for and accepted and what types of behaviours will jeopardise it.
This is the basis of Motivational Drivers - a concept developed by Psychologist Dr Taibi Kahler. His premise was that how we act and behave, and what drives us to succeed in adulthood is formed subconsciously in our childhood, due to the amount of praise and affection we received for certain behaviours.
For example; As a child if you were praised a lot for doing something well or achieving good grades, but you weren’t praised again until you did better. Then the likelihood is you have developed what’s known as a “Be Perfect’ driver. Which shows up in adulthood as striving for excellence and perfection in everything that you do. The problem with this is that nothing is ever good enough, even if you achieved top marks, you’d still think there was room for improvement.
Because of this subconscious programming we are unaware of when our motivations become a dysfunctional way of behaving, therefor rendering us unable to change them. So awareness is the first step to creating change.
“Awareness Is The First Step To Change ”
Kahler identified five Drivers that he considered to be typical. The “Be Strong” Driver The “Be Perfect” Driver The “Please Others” Driver The “ Hurry Up” Driver The “ Try Hard” Driver As of reading this you might recognise a few of these in yourself and depending on the person you may have one, a combination or all of these at different times of your life. No one is better or worse to have than another, and nor do we want to get rid of any. Your drivers have helped you get to where you are today and likely serve as a great motivator most of the time.
But what happens when our drivers are given too much free rein?
This is where they can have a negative impact on your performance and well-being, and if not recognised can be one of the main causes of stress in your life. As the saying goes...
“Your Greatest Strength Is Your Greatest Weakness ”
Let’s look into each driver a little deeper and see if you recognise these in yourself. Be Strong: Positive aspects: Reliable, Resilient, Can cope with any of life’s challenges Negative Aspects: Won’t ask for help when needed, uncomfortable with showing emotions Where did it come from: Constantly being told things like “big kids don’t cry” and “pull yourself together” Be Perfect: Positive aspects: driven, high achiever, focussed Negative Aspects: Things are never good enough, delays getting things done, will expect perfection from others Where did it come from: Parents gave praise for doing something well but not again until you did it better Please Others: Positive aspects: Caring, considerate, flexible Negative Aspects: Put’s others needs before own, hard time saying no, take too many things on Where did it come from: Likely that parents wanted to do everything for you as a child and therefor unable to master own independence Hurry Up: Positive aspects: spontaneous, risk taker, punctual Negative Aspects: lacks attention, always “busy”, leaves things to last minute Where did it come from: Constantly being told to '“hurry up” or “there’s no time for that” as a child. Try Hard: Positive aspects: Keen to try new things, will work longer than others Negative Aspects: reluctant to take time off, tend to stay too long on projects Where did it come from: “it’s not who wins but how you play the game” being the mantra So what’s the point in knowing and being aware of this? If we become aware of when our own individual drivers are working against us then we can make the effort to change them to keep our well-being and performance balanced.
One way of changing them is to reframe the subconscious messages already installed to something more helpful.
Change Be Perfect to “be good enough” or “in this instance done is better than perfect” Change Be Strong to “It’s actually ok to ask for help and be vulnerable. It’s not a sign of weakness” Change Hurry Up to “I don’t need to rush to get things done. Sometimes it’s better to take my time” Change Try Hard to “It’s ok to take it easy now and again” Change Please Others to “It’s ok to say no to other peoples requests and it’ not selfish to look after yourself” There is no magic pill when it comes to individual performance and well-being. Just like there is no magic pill when it comes to exercise. Understanding what works for you personally and then making adjustments where necessary is the best way forward, and that all starts with an initial awareness.