What Drives You… And At What Cost?

In a world that bombards us with advice to reach our goals and never stop until we reach success, we can sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. What drives us to accomplish what we want? What drives us into that next gear, that next chapter, that never-ending next goal? More importantly, at what cost? Host Paul Blanchard reflects on this perspective of driving ourselves—too much that we end up stepping on landmines and blind spots. Join him as you also rethink the price we unknowingly pay in exchange for the success we want to create and how you can shift your way into a path that is less harmful and more empowering.

We’re going to be talking about something that we hear a lot about in the personal development and motivational realm. That is, what drives us? What drives us to accomplish what we want to accomplish? What drives us into that next gear? There are some interesting things about driving in general that can teach us some powerful lessons about how we’ll want to embody this perspective and this view of driving ourselves in some of the landmines and blind spots that we create in driving ourselves that we’ll forget, especially when it comes time to try and drive others. As we talk about this progression and what drives us, we’re going to dive right into this Power Session. Welcome. Let’s go ahead and get started.

I am excited to be with you as we are diving into what drives us. This is something that I hear about all the time. I’m going to be sharing some examples of some things that have me considering this a lot closer as I’m going through something personally. For those of you who don’t know, I have a sling on my arm. I had shoulder surgery on my left shoulder and it’s been a humbling and interesting experience. I want to share some of the lessons that are more poignant and magnified in my life that are important for anyone, whether they have had surgery or not. It’s interesting to go from being able to bench press over 400 pounds a few short months ago to not being able to raise my arm that much. It is a pretty significant thing. I can’t lift it that high. I’m still in recovery from the inflammation and everything. I’ll start rehabbing and getting activation back in my shoulder.

What Drives You?

It’s been interesting to go through that. It’s been interesting to ask myself some questions and consider some things that when I step back and think about, it had me thinking about all of you. I’m thinking about our lives, our businesses, our relationships and what drives us. That’s what I wanted to focus on. There’s a lot of talk around what drives you. What is your motivation? The challenge is we think of drive in the same context of motivation, which is an impelling force. It means it’s external or something that is pushed upon or forced upon us to drive us somewhere we’re going. It’s very similar to the way you would put your shoulder up against a big stone or a big rock and try to drive it off of the road so that you could clear the path, or drive it up the hill for whatever reason.

The challenge is we get very singular. We get very external when we think about what drives us and then we pay a price for it. We pay a price for building and conditioning and shaping our lives neurologically, emotionally and physiologically based on what will drive us externally and motivate us to what we want to accomplish. Most people out there will teach you to find the right carrot, the right pain, the right pleasure, that dopamine hit in the brain that will drive you to your next goal. It’s similar to addiction to drugs, we find ourselves needing a deeper and bigger high every time to get the same return because it has a limited return. It’s similar to caffeine. If you use caffeine to drive your level of energy, you’re going to need more and more of it. If I need more energy, I need more caffeine.

Your Values

When we get asked what drives us or what motivates us, the question that we’re not asking enough is, “At what cost?” That’s far more valuable for us to consider in our long-term success and what we want to create. This is a question I had to ask myself before even considering the shoulder surgery that I got. I had to consider the surgery at what cost? I weigh the long-term of the pain I was dealing with on my shoulder, the goals I had in the gym and with other athletic and recreational things I wanted to do. Considering the timing, at what cost for the timing of getting a surgery like this right before summer is about to start? I’ve been considering some of the other costs of the kind of summer I wanted to have that I wouldn’t be able to have because of the pain I was dealing with in my shoulder. All these different things.

We’re oftentimes willing to consider the cost when we’re in a position of injury, when we’re in a position of recovery, which I’m in now after the surgery. Why is it that we’re only willing to consider that when we’re in these vulnerable and oftentimes to some degree broken positions? Why is that the time that we’re willing to consider at what cost? Why is that the time we’re willing to take a deep breath, slow down and consider the long-term ramifications of the choices that we’re making?

The Risk

Here’s the risk. Most of us are finding what drives us to get enough momentum, enough speed, enough motivation to drive us into a position that we’ll be able to get as far up the mountain of our challenges as we can and reap the rewards of being there before life snaps us back down, only then to go back all over again and do it again. Some of us have more resilience than others that we can get back up faster than others. Some of us, it takes minutes. Some it takes hours. Others, it can take weeks or even years after having driven ourselves to the point that we stretched out that rubber band, that bungee cord of our performance based on our current ability and habits. Something always happens. We slip up and that bungee cord comes whipping us back down that mountain and oftentimes landing us further back than where we started. That’s when we consider at what cost.

What if we started being more intentional about what drives us? What if we consider the rules of driving to serve us and benefit us in being able to get to our goals more consistently, and being able to enjoy them when we get there? There are a few things more torturous than driving up the mountain of our challenges and trying to reach the peak of our goals, to get there, to feel all the resistance we created from getting there. We’re like that cat where their claws are hanging on to try and slide slower rather than being able to stay where it got. How many of us have been playing this pattern out over and over again in our lives thinking that that’s how it is? That’s what we do. We charge up the mountain and we get as far as we can. The more of ahead of a steam you can get, you think about that bungee cord, the more you’ll be able to stretch it out, the less comfortable it will be, and the less fulfilling it will be when you get there.

There’s nothing fulfilling about getting to the peak of a mountain, to feel every gravitational and physical force in the world trying to rip you off of it. I want to get to the top of the mountain and be able to take a breath, enjoy being there, and realize that it wasn’t about getting there. It was the journey that got us there that we get to sit up there and reflect on rather than going, “I made it and it doesn’t feel as good as I thought it would.” We wanted to be able to get there and have that peak be a perspective of how amazing the journey was so that the next one we climb, we’ll take a little bit more care, to be a little bit more present, to be a little bit more joyful along the way, realizing that the destination is usually anti-climactic. It’s usually the journey that feels quite amazing.

At What Cost?

It’s the fulfillment and the joy from that journey that we want to consider on our way up, rather than get a full ahead steam, a motivation, a drive, an external force to push us as high up as possible, come flinging back down, and then try to figure out how to make that worth it again and again. That’s not what we want to do. The first thing I want you to consider is at what cost. If we’re living a life of triage, that’s the challenge. Most of us are living a life in triage where everything feels life and death. Everything feels like it’s urgent and critically important. When everything is critically important, then the likelihood of burnout, the likelihood of fulfillment, life becomes far too risky. We start building what I call a Jenga life. If you’ve ever played the game Jenga, there’s only one outcome in Jenga, and that is for it to crash. It’s inevitable.

What Drives You: There’s nothing fulfilling about getting to the peak of a mountain and feel every gravitational and physical force in the world trying to rip you off of it.

No one plays Jenga and gets to a point where it’s like, “You built that higher than ever. You win.” That’s not what it says in the game. You don’t win in Jenga. You wait for somebody else to lose and hope that you can hang on long enough that enough people lose that you win. Who wants to live life like that in your relationships? Who wants to wait for your spouse to lose enough times that that automatically means you won? Who wants their kids to lose enough times that that means you won as a parent? How fun is that going to be? How fulfilling is that going to be? We want to start considering, at what cost? When we’re in triage, in maximum urgency, critical care, we don’t consider this question. No one considers the ramifications of a broken sternum when someone’s heart isn’t beating and they need CPR. Although oftentimes when CPR is done incorrectly, you break someone’s sternum in the process or some ribs at least.

No one considers the impact of putting very powerful hormonal drugs like epinephrine and adrenaline, injecting it with a giant needle into somebody’s heart if it’s not beating. There are things that we do when life is on the line where at what costs doesn’t matter because life is on the line. The only other option is death. We have programmed ourselves in motivation and drive to constantly be convincing ourselves that it is life or death, that everything is on the line. It causes us to blur the lines of, “At what cost? We’ll figure that out when we get there.” If someone’s going to die, if we don’t give them CPR and break their sternum, obviously that’s not what you’re trying to do, but that’s oftentimes what happens. If we’re going to take that into consideration when they could die, that would be ridiculous. We’d rather save their life and then figure out how to deal with the broken sternum, but that is not what most of us are facing day-to-day.

Avoid Unnecessary Strain

Our businesses, our relationships are not life or death day-to-day. They are an incremental millimeter-based journey. Everything in me would love to be moving my other arm that’s in a sling right now from surgery as quickly as possible, but at what cost? Why? So I could brag about how quickly I recovered and got my movement back? No. My shoulder has some very stark realities about its stability and its inflammation right now. I’m doing everything I can to patiently and incrementally do what I should be doing, getting the rest I should be getting, icing it multiple times a day, taking anti-inflammatories, keeping it loose with appropriate movements, but not putting any unnecessary strain on it. It usually isn’t until after we’ve put too much strain on our lives and our relationships, and for some of us, depending on our resilience, that might be years down the road that we finally realize at what cost.

Let’s start living a more proactive life in terms of what drives us to be balancing our intentionality. That’s where the balance comes from, it’s at what cost, not from an all or nothing perspective. At what cost, so I’m not going to do it at all. No. It’s at what cost, so I can see what is sustainable. What can allow me to be consistent? Most people that are focused on what drives them are trying to be constant, and that’s exhausting. We are not made and built to be constant. We have sleep cycles. We have recovery needs. We have all these different things and yet when we get into this motivated driving mentality, it’s all about to go, get the momentum, milk it for all it’s worth, and then we’ll deal with the consequences afterward. We get frustrated when we feel like we’re constantly starting back at square one, having to reinvent ourselves, having to figure out some new why which is really some new drive. That’s not how we’re built. That’s not how driving works either.

What Motivates You?

I would imagine most of you reading drive to some degree. You drive a car or some kind of vehicle. Every vehicle on the street is required both a gas and a brake. That alone should have been a light bulb for many of you. Every vehicle on the street requires both gas, an accelerator, and a brake. Something that slows you down. I don’t care what destination you’re trying to get to or how you’re trying to get there, you can’t get there without a brake. It’s too dangerous. It would be far too selfish for you to assume that everybody else will get out of your way. Figure out what drives you. What motivates you? What’s that external force that can get you there as quickly and forcefully as possible? You can dress it up as a passion. You can dress it up as inner will and grit. You can dress it up however you want, but you would never drive a vehicle that way.

You are an intrinsic vehicle. You are made to be drawn from within, to be inspired, not to be motivated. There are times that based on our challenges and our imperfections as human beings, that we’ll need a little push. We’ll need a little gas. More often than not in our lives, it’s the break that we’re not taking advantage of. It’s pumping the brakes and going at a pace that can be sustained. We learned this as kids. The tortoise and the hare. Some people can be a tortoise at a hare’s pace, but that’s where we get into the trouble of comparison, which we’ll talk about another day. We want to make sure that if we’re going to consider what drives us, we’re asking at what cost and not waiting until we’re injured or we had to get surgery to be able to answer that question and consider that question. We’re asking it proactively along the way, at what cost?

It’s an incredible question. It’s something we should be asking right now. There are people trying to do things in our economy, in our government right now that people aren’t as quick to ask, at what cost? Think about some of the policies that were passed after 9/11. I don’t want to make this political. I’m making this a mindset. When we are in moments of triaged, when we’re in moments of life or death, that’s when we’re not asking, at what costs? That’s exactly when we should be asking at what cost, when we should be considering these things. It’s usually not as dire as we think. We’ll become convinced that we need to push the gas more. You push the gas more while we’ve got gas in the tank, while we’ve got horsepower, hit that gas. That’s not how you win a race.

Balancing Our Intentionality

You talk to any good driver, it’s as important to understand your pace, your brake, the angles, the path and everything. Let’s remember if we’re considering what drives us, let’s make sure we’re balancing our intentionality. We are both intentionally moving forward as we are intentionally slowing down. We are as willing to accelerate as we are willing to decelerate. We’re as willing to grow and push ourselves as we are willing to slow down and recover. This is something that is slapping me in the face right now because I can play out with vivid ease the breadcrumbs of what led to the injury in the shoulder, that led to eventually needing surgery to correct it. I promise you, it wasn’t because I used the brake too much. It was because I hit the gas a lot in the gym.

By hitting the gas a lot in the gym and not honoring and respecting my own drive, which requires both a brake and a gas and knowing better, led to injury. That’s when we’ll step back and consider at what cost. Once we’re back on the road again in our lives, then we’re right back to throwing away at what cost and we’re right back to seeing how fast we can get things going. All of us have different definitions of speed, of intensity. If it’s all driven by the accelerator and we’re not balanced in our intentionality, if we push for growth, then we’re going to push the brake for recovery. If we push for speed, we’re going to push the brake for attention to detail and making sure we’re being productive and not just busy. We’re going to find the balance.

As you ask yourself what drives you, let’s consider both the brake and the gas because both are required to reach your destination safely. We want to get there efficiently. We want to get there quickly, but not faster than we should. In Habit Finder, we want you to get to your goals, to your dreams as quickly as you can, but not faster than you should. The ability to do that depends on your balanced perspective, your balanced intentionality to both grow and recover, to both speed up and slow down and understand the balance of both and the way that both serve the race. Both add to how quickly and efficiently and sustainably you can get to whatever your current finish line is that you’re looking for.

What Drives You: Our businesses and relationships are not life or death. They are an incremental millimeter-based journey.

Love the Journey

Here’s the other part. You’re going to love the race. You’re going to love the journey because a lot of our journeys are completely predicated on how fast we get there, the speed of the journey. Oftentimes when we get there, the engine’s blown out and we don’t get to enjoy being there because we’ve got to figure out how to fix things and get back on the road. We ran up that hill and stretched out that bungee cord. When we get to the top, all we’re thinking about is the centrifugal force that’s trying to yank us back down the hill. We don’t get to enjoy being there and reflect on how amazing the journey was, and consider a far more balanced and intentional drive to get on the next journey.

As I’m sitting here battling with this myself, as I’d love nothing more than to rely on my brute strength and my ability to heal quickly and whatever, and not consider at what cost right now. Not because I want to take longer than it should take to get better, but because I want to carefully consider each baby step, each millimeter. When I am back in the gym, I don’t have to be worried about the fact that I pushed a lot more gas than I pushed brake and wondering when I might spin out of control. What instability, what lack of sustainability did I create for myself because I rushed it? Let’s stop rushing our success. You will be amazed at how quickly your success shows up when you stop rushing it. That comes from considering what drives you, realizing that driving anything involves both speeding up and slowing down at the appropriate times.

You don’t get anywhere with doing just one or the other. Considering what costs before you’re injured, before you’re recovering and being able to balance our intentionality to do both wisely with fulfillment, with baby steps and consistency rather than constancy and momentum. All these things that apply more aptly to inanimate objects than they do to intrinsic, priceless human beings such as ourselves who were built to create dreams, to be able to facilitate incredible lies and incredible footprints on this planet. Please, find what drives you, but let’s start considering how to drive well.

Thank you so much for being on the Power Session. I hope this message serves you. Thank you for the well wishes in terms of recovery. I had a surgery on my shoulder and the sling that my arm is in is what’s driving a lot of this discussion. There were a lot of things that I was pushing the accelerator on way too much that life has totally slowed down. It has been hard and painful on a lot of levels, as you can imagine, to go through that. I can think of nothing better than to take some of the things I’ve learned in this almost forced recovery to help you be a little bit more proactive, a little bit more balanced in your intentions and a little bit more appropriately driven in your life from some of these lessons. Thank you for joining us and I’ll see you next time. Take care.

Watch the episode here