It never ceases to amaze me how driven people are to grow and succeed. During my Coaching and Mentoring seminars in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen over the last few days, I met hundreds of these driven people and I found myself repeatedly wondering, “What is it that drives us to constantly want to improve?”
Is it simply a desire to keep up with the Joneses? Or as Walt Disney puts it, are we like cats, simply chasing curiosity; “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Many times in China, I often turn to Confucius for answers to questions like this. This passage from his “The Great Learning,” highlights the value of learning and growing one’s knowledge:
“The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge.” 
So is it this desire to “illustrate illustrious virtue” that drives us to expand our knowledge or seek to grow and succeed? Actually, this is quite similar to what Abraham Maslow refers to as “Self-actualization” needs; which includes morality. However, this isn’t necessarily the “need” or “motivation” that everyone might start with.
“http://newsite.clarkmorgan.com/wp-content/uploads/maslow1.png Safety, Love/Belonging, Esteem, and Self-actualization (See Figure 1); and concluded that each level must be met before individuals will be motivated enough to focus on higher levels.” (“Getting the team excited,” July 2011, feature article, NetworkHR)
So if each level must be met before we are motivated enough to focus on the higher levels, how do we know if we’ve met that level? No matter what kind of project we’re involved in, being able to see positive results throughout our journey is essential to keeping us engaged.
Take me, for example; I’m currently on a diet, again, and I have to say that one of the best parts about it is stepping on the scale and seeing that number go down. Unfortunately, we’re not always so lucky in our personal and business-development projects to have a scale to stand on and quickly measure how well we’re doing. We often judge by making personal observations; but as I wrote last month, in my article entitled “The grass is always greener on the other mountain”, these aren’t always accurate due to our own observational biases.
But just because we don’t have a scale to measure every project or goal we set, doesn’t mean that we can’t measure them and see reliable results. In our company, for example, we’re often asked about the results of our training; what kind of returns can our clients expect? One of my fellow ClarkMorgan trainers, Jamie Dixon, recently wrote an article entitled, “Training’s Return on Investment” in issue 31 of Network HR, specifically answering this question. He will also be presenting in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen on how to increase and measure the results of your training. If you’re interested in learning more, don’t miss the ClarkMorgan Demo Course entitled, “Increase Training Value.”
So, whether you’re the curious cat, just trying to keep up with the Joneses, hoping to illustrate illustrious virtue, or working on fulfilling any one of Maslow’s needs; remember to stand on your scale, stay motivated, and stay driven.