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  • Markus Hunt

What's Another Name for Drive?

I'm great with faces and horrible with names, so unfortunately I won't be able to give credit to the psychologist whose teachings I draw from for this post. In an auditorium filled with school parents, a guest speaker looked over the crowd with a smile of appreciation. She was a highly respected psychologist who was invited for a parent education evening and was just beginning her talk. "This is a room full of successful people, isn't it? Doctors, lawyers, business people. And you got to where you are in life by having drive. You had drive to become chief resident, drive to become partner and drive to become a captain of industry. Well, there is another name for drive. Do you have an idea what I might be thinking?" At seven o'clock on a Thursday, most parents were probably thinking how much they wished they hadn't wasted their babysitter on this and gone out to dinner, but they waited patiently as one does when trying not to look annoyed. After a seemingly eternal pause, she saved the room by giving the short and unwelcome answer, "anxiety."


Her point is well-made but being anxious isn't always bad. A gazelle at a watering hole better be worried about lions if he wants to see another sunset. For humans, being worried about whether or not you're prepared for an audit or presentation is probably a good thing. In our daily lives, we generally want to be in the company of people who are invested in their work; however, if we live in a state of near constant anxiety about what we can't control, we lose control. Despite the knowledge that we have survived 100% of our worst days, we intermittently continue to be paralyzed by our anxieties.


I share this reframing of drive not to cause additional anxiety but rather to try to keep it manageable. Easier said than done I know, but hopefully if we say it enough, we might actually believe it and eventually do it.


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