Drive is a set of sought-after employability attributes that will help you seek, gain or retain a job throughout your career. I’m sure you know someone who lacks drive, struggles to motivate themselves and others, doesn’t get things done settles for less than is possible and does not fulfill their potential. Equally, you will know somebody else who is strongly motivated to achieve and wants to makes things happen, is results-oriented, and a self-starter who shows initiative. Which person would you hire?

Sam was in his second year of a business management degree. He got a temporary summer job working at a Gin Festival in his university city. It involved event preparation, marketing and bar work. Sam is self-motivated, ambitious and with a drive to succeed. He took the initiative and created new combinations of gin cocktails that he pitched to his boss. He liked them so much that he introduced the drinks to his menu and invited Sam to join the team on its summer tour of other cities.

Employers want self-starters like Sam. Drive is the essential ingredient to task delivery and job progression. Be explicit in what helps foster your drive, so your prospective employer or manager and colleagues know what makes you tick and how you give your best.

Attributes of drive

Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives. Daniel Pink

  • Drive is the feeling of compulsion to succeed and excel at a certain task or in a particular field. It’s your rocket fuel, an energy that propels you from within, the energy required to put the hard work, sweat, and tears into accomplishing something worthwhile. You find a way to do things and push yourself to achieve. You are persistent, persuasive and don’t give up.
  • Ambition is about the hopes and desires to which you aspire. It’s creating your dreams or to be the best you can be right where you are.  Ambition is the mother of intention and the child of intention is action.
  • Initiative is trying new things, speaking up or doing the right thing unprompted, volunteering ideas and better ways to do things, and bringing a fresh approach.
  • Self-starting is where you find things that need doing and problems to solve, where you don’t need to be told what to do every minute or constantly nagged. It’s a ‘can-do’ attitude. You can only motivate yourself, like Sam did – no one can decide that for us. It comes from within and is different for each person. Other people can only create the conditions or environment to encourage us, like Sam’s boss did.
  • Assertiveness is pursuing your goals while respecting the rights and responsibilities of others. It’s being firm and fair with a positive attitude. Driven people are assertive and take responsibility. And most importantly, they know when to say yes and when to say no. Check out this quiz.

12 tips to give your drive momentum

  1. Remind yourself of your sense of purpose and the benefits you will gain.
  2. Create space in your life to develop – show something you are good at or talk about a topic you know well.
  3. Master or improve something that matters to you and that the world needs – take a course, practice, experiment.
  4. Set your expectations for success, aspire to high standards – it will shape your reality.
  5. Do something for others without expecting anything back.
  6. Mentor someone or find a mentor.
  7. Connect with diverse people for mutual learning and sharing.
  8. Seek encouragement from people you trust and respect.
  9. Find inspiration – watch TED Talks and the School of Life, read widely, go to events.
  10. Set goals with milestones to feed your momentum, align with your values, accept responsibility for the actions and hold yourself to account.
  11. Build what you want to do differently into your daily routine so it becomes a habit – learn how to scratch an itch like Mozart.
  12. Don’t pick a job, pick a manager who trusts you so you can show your initiative.

You can’t have drive without energy. To have energy requires rest and recovery, as well as inner motivation and external stimulation. Get the balance right and the sky is not the limit.