Why do you do what you do? Do you really understand what drives you? We know how important it is to “know yourself”. Yet how often do you reflect on who your are .... now, in this moment.
Our ideas of self are molded at a very early age. Our parents, care givers, and teachers encourage certain behaviours that help us integrate with our peers. We are encouraged to go-along, to get-along. Do you remember the report card line "Plays well with others"?
Unfortunately, even as well intentioned adults we can send messages counter to our actual nature or personality type. “You are so good at following the rules,” doesn’t acknowledge the ability (and desire) to question arbitrary or unfair rules. We can develop a limited, if not warped, sense of self.
In reality, we are remarkably complex and magical beings. I wrote about this in a previous post linked below1. Our environment and social context contribute to the actions we take and influence our values and motivations. I believe this is why a child or young adult in an uncomfortable social environment might uncharacteristically behave counter to her values and step out of line. Recalling such a moment, I speak for my 9-year-old self.
According to Johnmarshall Reeve, PsyD, “Through our unique experiences, exposures to particular role models, and awareness of cultural expectations, we acquire different goals, values, attitudes, expectations, aspirations, and views of self.” 2
What Is Driving You?
All humans have four basic drives that are embedded in our genetic DNA and remain active in us today:
- The drive to acquire
- The drive to bond
- The drive to learn
- The drive to defend
These basic drives have helped in our survival as a species. But, what drives us beyond mere survival? How do we go from survive to thrive?
Hierarchy of Values
Based on their research, Drs. Eduard Spranger3 and Gordon Allport4 identified a hierarchy of values that, when in certain combinations, shape our interests and level of satisfaction:
- Aesthetic: A drive for balance, harmony, and form
- Altruistic: A drive to help others; for humanitarian efforts
- Economic: A drive for economic or practical returns
- Individualistic: A drive to stand out as independent and unique
- Political: A drive to have influence; to be in control
- Regulatory: A drive to establish order, routine, and structure
- Theoretical: A drive for knowledge, learning and understanding
Understanding your individual hierarchy of values—how you rate each value, and how the values show up in combination—can help you understand what drives you. Deep reflection and understanding can help you move from basic survival, past striving, to thriving
References and Resources
- When Your Values Shift , Encore Blog, November 11, 2022
- Understanding Motivation and Emotion,” Johnmarshall Reeve, PsyD (Wiley, 2018)
- Dr. Eduard Spranger, Wikipedia
- Dr. Gordon Allport, Wikipedia
Your Next Steps
- Explore the connections I make with this topic related to Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, and other areas of emotional intelligence. Contact with me on LinkedIn. Or click to Get in Touch.
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