Sometimes it is easy to know what motivates us. It might be the desire for more money to purchase a house, or a car, or whatever the heart yearns for. It might be the desire to do good and spread kindness to others in need. But, sometimes our motivation and drive start to lag, dragging us down. What can we do to increase our drive, especially when we feel stressed, discouraged or burnt out?

In the book, Leadership is Upside Down, we discuss drive, which refers to having the strength and perseverance to pursue the actions required in order to attain the desired goal. Hard work, creativity and optimism, along with drive, are the ingredients needed to convert ideas into reality. Without the drive to want to create and bring new things and ideas to life, innovation will slow or even stop altogether.1

What Characteristics Does A Leader With Drive Exhibit? 

Leaders who show drive tend to exhibit similar characteristics, including optimism, resilience and determination. People with these traits seem to be productive not just for tangible rewards, but to achieve something greater and more important than money or fame.

Part of the problem may be that many people have a narrow definition of happiness. People with low drive seem to be happiest when they can avoid work, especially if it’s unappealing or unpleasant work. Finding work you enjoy can exponentially increase your motivation to create an innovative, cutting-edge product or service. When you feel more optimistic and determined, your employees may also be inspired to attain greater heights of success.

Another factor that can hold us back is fear. The fear of failure, fear of success or the fear of not doing things exactly right can dampen and wilt even the most enthusiastic leaders. Learning about the parts of the brain can help you overcome these fears, allowing you to blend neuroscience and leadership. Neuroscience can help you understand how your brain and body face fearful situations, allowing you to find your motivation and drive once more.

You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can't have it.

Dr Robert Anthony

How Can You Increase Your Drive?

Drive is the energy that makes things happen, and it brings ideas, people and resources together. Without drive, the likelihood of turning these ideas and resources into something tangible is also zero. Fortunately, we can make changes to increase our drive by:

  1. Stepping up when you are needed. Leadership is desperately needed in times of crisis. When leaders are ready to offer their valuable skill sets, relief efforts can begin in a smoother, more efficient manner. Drive gives you the fuel to face doubt, fear and failure, even in the face of a catastrophic event.
  2. By being the best version of yourself, you help others be the best, too. Drive is what gives us the inspiration for new ideas, allowing innovation to thrive and blossom. When you are the best version of yourself, you can help others find the best within themselves, also. Having a positive mental state and a healthy diet are important to maintain the drive you need to be successful in the Imagination Age.
  3. Face disappointment and move on. If you’re a baseball fan, you likely know the plight of the Chicago Cubs. They finally won the World Series--after 108 years! You can let bad situations bring you down mentally, emotionally and physically, or you can face disappointment and learn something about yourself. Disappointment and tough moments are unfortunately part of life, but how you deal with these moments is entirely up to you.

We all have times in our lives when our motivation and drive to endure and succeed tend to flag. You can rekindle your drive and build it up to make the innovations our modern world demands come to life. Think of drive and innovation as a process, much like creativity, and recognise the will to do better and be better is just as important as any other characteristic that defines you as a leader.

1. Damiano S, Cubeiro JC, de Haas T. Leadership is Upside Down: The i4 Neuroleader Revolution. About my Brain Institute. 2014.

Originally posted on: 11 June 2019
Last updated on: 18 February 2024

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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