Friday, October 30, 2009

What drives you?

This question has been something I've pondered over and over again for myself and for other people. Our own personal drivers are more important to us, I believe, than any education you can receive or experience you can gain. My reasoning for this is that I believe that our personal drivers are what determine how we can be educated and how we interpret certain experiences.

As an example, I'll take my own personal drivers into account. As always, I'll start with a story:

While in high school, like most students, I was put in a boring, white-walled room, made to memorize equations and take tests. Needless to say, it wasn't terribly stimulating, but I was used to it, so I put up with it. Since I've always done really well in mathematics and science, I succeeded pretty easily (the funny thing is: I was horrible at art and anything dealing with creativity, but look at me now). As I began to notice my obvious proficiencies and deficiencies, I began to wonder why in certain classes I performed really well and why I found other classes completely aggravating. It wouldn't be until several years later that I would answer this question.

As I stepped on to my college campus for the first time I still had that high school mentality. I was used to doing work because it needed to be done and I rarely asked questions. However, as soon as my second semester came around I realized something quite profound: for the first time in my entire life, I basically had complete autonomy at school. Rarely, if ever, was I required to attend any given class and tardiness was typically a non-issue, but the most amazing revelation was that professors hardly gave two shits if you passed or failed. Whether you turned in your papers or showed up for the test, none of it mattered! Of course, we were all told this would happen before starting college, but the reality of it is an experience all to itself.

This finally leads to my point: I realized that in order to succeed in school, I would need to feel personal fulfillment in each and every task and personally motivate myself to complete work. At first this wasn't too difficult because the revelation hadn't fully set in yet. Though, it wasn't long before my GPA started slipping and my attendance began to fall. There's still a slight sting in my heart when I think back on those days. Partly, I think, it's because I felt a great sense of failure in my actions at the time. However, the sting is only slight now because it's just a memory. I realize that the sense of failure was entirely due to my interpretation of the events through a lens that I no longer look through.

My new lens looks a little like this: If I'm personally responsible to motivate myself to enjoy the work I do, then I want to do the work that I personally enjoy. I'm not going to pay somebody or exert much effort to perform menial tasks that I find utterly aggravating*. What I'm going to do is make a personal investment, whether it be time, effort, or money to learn about and perfect the things that I find personally fulfilling in a way that is efficient plus engages and inspires me. But the current collegiate system doesn't allow for that so I decided to leave it.

After leaving, as I've mentioned before, I entered a period of self discovery like I'd never experienced before. No, it's not this profound moment where you truly discover your inner self. For me, at least, that's not at all how it worked. While there were definitely moments of profound personal revelation, I actually hit the books harder than I ever had before. I reflected and wrote and reflected more. I analyzed myself in a very critical way over a period of several months and discovered my personal drivers: Aesthetics, style, beauty, art, creativity, big ideas, and, above all other things, making a difference.

Once again, probably a mishmash of ideas and points, but here's what I'm actually getting at:

  • Personal Drivers are extremely important! Find out what they are and use them to take your to new heights in your life!
  • Nobody can motivate you, only you can do that through the use of your personal drivers. What do you honestly, truly attach personal meaning to? What actually inspires you?
  • If you aren't ready to write off the current "system" like I have, at the very least find out which classes don't match up with your personal drivers, and try to find a professor that is more in tune with your needs.
  • Personal drivers are not static. They are dynamic, which means that they change. They change because you change. Are you the same person that you were ten years ago? Probably not. That doesn't mean that you need to change them. If you want to keep 'em, keep 'em.
  • For me, the current "system" hasn't met the needs of my personal drivers. I would be much more happy investing my time in a system that was built to utilize my personal drivers and help me grow in a fulfilling and exciting way. That's what I would pay for.
  • When I observe and talk to anybody I'm always wondering what their personal drivers are. So, what drives you?

*It is important that I note that my father was paying for my tuition at the time. It's important because many of you out there pay for your own, which makes you more invested than I was. As a result, my insight may have a more or less profound effect on you. If I felt this way while not paying a dime, how do you feel?


  1. My motivations for enlisting in the Marine Corps seem to change everyday. Really the biggest reason I joined was because my life was static and boring and I wanted a big change. Plus, the fact it would open a lot of doors helped as well.
    I can attest you don't need motivators to get trough a lot things in life. In bootcamp there were many things I didn't want to do but I had no choice or I knew that if I didn't do these things I wouldn't be able to make it. Same thing goes with school, you need to jump trough the hoops and play the games in order to get your degree. In order to do the things you truly want to do you need those things to progress in "the system." It's just the way the world works.
    You'll always be imprisoned financially if you don't get an education. It seems to me that your attitude is a little selfish because what happens when/if you get married and have children they will count on you having good employment in order to support them. Living paycheck to paycheck is a sorry existence. This comment was for both your posts that's why it's a little long.

  2. In response to:
    "I can attest you don't need motivators to get trough a lot things in life."

    Do these not suffice as motivators? :

    - "My life was static and boring"
    - "I wanted a big change"
    - "It would open a lot of doors"