Being Driven is thrown around a lot as a core competency in leadership and employees. And if I’m being honest, early in my career I misunderstood what it meant. When I was younger, I thought about “being driven” as being competitive, getting more than someone else.
This attitude created the kind of headspace where I took the jobs that I had for granted. I used some of them as a steppingstone and keep climbing a ladder. I didn’t realize the blessing that was bestowed upon me to have a job and a salary that allowed me to provide for my family. I took on an attitude that if I worked harder than anyone else in my company, then I could expect to have a pretty good financial outcome. I used to say I may not be the smartest recruiter or the wittiest, but I will outwork you. It was all about me being rivals with everyone else. Until I was in my mid 30s, I took opportunities for granted, and I saw my colleagues as competitors.
But at this stage in my career, “being driven” means staying grateful and not taking anything for granted. “Being driven” to me is something I define a lot differently today than I did, say, 10 years ago. And having a career at Lucas Group keeps me focused on working as hard as I can every single day. These days, I’m only competing against myself—to be better today than I was yesterday and certainly better than I was when I started working.
20 years into my career, here’s what I know now that I wish I had known then about being driven:
Have goals and go after them. Wanting to be the best at everything isn’t realistic. In fact, if you’re trying to be good at everything, you’re not going to be good at anything. It will stretch you too thin and knock you off course. When I was younger, I didn’t understand the importance of setting specific goals. I have always been goal-oriented, but when I was younger, being the most successful was the beginning and end of my aspirations. But you can’t get to a milestone unless you know exactly where you’re going. These days, I have specific personal and career goals. I say them out loud. They keep me focused. Being driven means knowing what my specific personal career goals are. Write them down on paper or share them with a friend or mentor. And be willing to fail. In fact, you should fail sometimes when making extremely ambitious goals. What are my goals these days? I’m working to surpass my 2020 billings in 2021. I may not be the #1 Recruiter at Lucas Group in 2021 but I will surpass my 2020 billings. I pray for the best outcome, and I am okay with whatever that outcome is if I know I challenged myself and I worked as hard as I could every day with specific, focused goals.
Help others with intention. Just as you should have specific goals for yourself, when working with other clients or colleagues, understand exactly what problem you’re trying to solve. Being in Recruiting isn’t all about the transaction of finding talent. It’s about the problem you’re solving—who are you looking for? What will this mean for your client? How does this hire fit into the bigger picture? People want to work with problem solvers and being a problem solver requires you to get specific about what the desired outcome is.
Nurture your relationships. Relationships are the most important part of my work. People appreciate being heard. I’m over-the-top organized about everything from how quickly I responding to people to when I follow up to keep a relationship strong. Because my drive isn’t about me. It’s about the work I do with people. My success isn’t about me. It’s about the service I’m able to provide to those around me.
Stay organized. Like I said, I’m over-the-top organized. I’d go as far as to say, staying organized is the pillar to my success. It allows me to not get overwhelmed too often with the amount of business coming in the door. If you are not organized in your personal life as well as your career life, you won’t last in this job—or many others for that matter.
Take advantage of the times you feel the most driven. At this point in my career, I know when I’m most productive, so to get the most out of my performance, I flex my work schedule to tackle the hard tasks when I’m at my best and most focused. For me, that’s in the morning. I’m up early, knocking out the most important work. This helps me feel accomplished early and keeps my motivation and drive up throughout the day.
I live my job. I generate all my own revenue. I run my own business in some ways. I make extra time on the weekends—especially in the morning. Driven means working weekends, early mornings and nights. I am not saying you have to be a workaholic, but I am saying you have to live this job to get to the top of the mountain. I treat my job as if it’s my own business, if it fails how will I provide for my family? The work that I’ve chosen for myself is something I love doing, so it’s easy to make it a part of my life.
Listen more than you talk. This one’s straightforward. I used to talk too much. I wanted to show people I was hungry, driven, and intelligent. But now, I’m more interested in hearing from others about things I might not know—their needs, their perspective, their story—than talking. God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Give more than you get. Now that I don’t see “being driven” as competing, I’ve turned the corner on giving back to others. I get more benefit these days from seeing other people succeed than myself. Salespeople can be selfish and egocentric people. But I’m at a place in my career and my life where I’m becoming more well-rounded, and I can honestly say that helping others is what’s most important to me.
As I’ve matured in my career, my shifted perspective on being driven has made me happier. I feel more grateful and more motivated than I did when I felt I was competing for everything. Being driven used to mean someone that was aggressive, that was outperforming. But someone that is consistent, someone that contributes to the success of others? That’s the kind of driven I’m interested in these days. I want to be successful, sure, but I’m far more interested in being well-rounded in my accomplishments. I wish I had known this sooner, and I’m glad I know it now.