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The 5 Core Motivators Which Drive Us

Which one drives you, and what does it mean for your career?

What drives you in your life?

Do you know, or have you never really thought about it before?

According to researcher Taibi Kahler, we're all driven by 5 core motivators in our lives. What are they, and how do they influence our careers? Let's unpack it!

People running at the beach demonstrating their personal drivers

So What are the 5 Core Motivators?

The 5 core motivators are:

  • Please Others

  • Be Strong

  • Hurry Up

  • Try Hard

  • Be Perfect

These stem from our subconscious and were likely formed in childhood as a result of interactions with our caregivers.

These can form a powerful role in how we show up, leading to positive as well as some maladaptive behaviours.

But how might they influence our careers?

The Impact Of these Motivators On Our Careers

These can have a significant influence on how we show up at work.

  • If your motivator is to Please Others, it's likely you put other people's needs before your own. You'll be seen as extremely helpful, but perhaps you struggle with boundaries and saying 'no' in the workplace, which can lead to overwhelm.

  • If your motivator is Be Strong - you can take on a lot. However, you might struggle to ask for help when things feel hard, and may not communicate when you're feeling stressed and unable to cope. This is a straight road to Burnout city.

  • If you're motivated by Hurry Up - you might leap into action quickly, bringing a sense of urgency to your work. This can sometimes be really effective in helping you get things done, but it might also lead you to miss errors and have poor attention to detail, or create stress in the team that you lead.

  • If your motivator is Try Hard - you may tend to persist even when the better course of action is to pivot. You certainly have tenacity, but perhaps you glamourise the notion of 'grit' and perseverance over all else, not realising that occasionally the more effective decision is to quit.

  • Finally, if you're motivated to Be Perfect, well, it does what it says on the tin. It's likely you have perfectionistic tendencies, holding yourself and others to impossible standards and never being satisfied. You might be prone to overworking, and be highly sensitive to criticism.

How Can We Address This?

Being aware of how these influence us can give us greater self-awareness and sense of agency over our behaviours.

By noticing our patterns, we can interrupt them and interrogate if they are the right thing for us to do in the situation, or merely an automatic response.

Perhaps the next time you notice your behaviour reflecting one of these core drivers you can stop and ask yourself:

  • Is what I believe about this situation true, or is it a story I'm telling myself?

  • In what ways is my driver in control right now?

  • What might I do differently for a healthier outcome?

We Are In The Driving Seat

Clearly, our drivers can have a big impact on our lives. We don't have to be victims to them though.

We have so much choice and power to decide how we behave, and how we show up at work.

What commitment will you make, to interrupting these patterns in future?

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Always on your side,

CEO and Founder, Clarity Coaching with Louise


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