Earlier this week, I was looking to connect with Colby Sharp, an educator who hosts a podcast about children’s books, called The Yarn. I stumbled upon his twitter account and was struck by his “bio” which began with the phrase, “driven by gratitude.”
It was such a wonderful articulation of what motivates him and got me wondering about what drives any of us.
In my own life, I know that what drives me has evolved. At different points in my life, I’ve been driven by acceptance, achievement, recognition and righteousness to name a few. None as virtuous as Mr. Sharp’s gratitude.
In thinking about what drives us, it is akin to thinking about what provides us fuel or sustenance. In my own example, it appears that my “car” has often run on the equivalent of fossil fuels that are both inefficient for me personally and a pollutant for others who share my “environment.”
What drives us can also put us on a collision course with others. Too many driven by competence (people looking to prove that they’re capable of something), leads to a chorus of “look at me, look at what I can do.” Too many driven by achievement leads to a culture of competition instead of cooperation. Too many driven by righteousness can sew division and distrust as we become incapable of even considering that we might be wrong. So we only surround ourselves with people and information that confirm our existing world view.
Since starting a family, I most often have been driven by their happiness, which also has its limitations. As someone once said, you’re only as happy as your least happy child.
There are plenty of admirable things that can drive us as individuals and society; service, joy, exploration, adventure, wonder, and of course, gratitude among many others.
What is interesting to me about all of this is that we don’t often pause to question our own motivations. Why am I doing this right now? Why is this so important to me? What am I hoping to get out of this day, this week, this life?
The answers may not come easily, but like most things there is merit in just asking the question.
So what is driving you?