Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Symptoms of a Driven Person

This is Part II of my reflections on Gordon MacDonald's Ordering Your Private World.

I don't tend to think of myself as being "driven." Maybe it's my self-critical nature that tells me I'm way to lazy to be driven, or maybe it's my true self that looks beyond that as a mere facade, I'm not sure. But MacDonald has a whole chapter on the symptoms that suggest a person is driven. As I read them, I found myself face-to-face with a lot of similar symptoms in my life. Maybe you may find some too:

1. A driven person is most often gratified only by accomplishment.
"Arrival is everything to this accomplishment-oriented individual; the trip means nothing."
All too often, I travel impatiently, wishing I could beam myself to my destination. check - I'm all about arrival.

2. A driven person is preoccupied with the symbols of accomplishment.

3. A driven person is usually caught in the uncontrolled pursuit of expansion. "Driven people like to be part of something that is getting bigger and more successful."

Numbers, while are not my primary concern, are definitely a force. I'm about to roll out something new here @ Liberty with Adult Discipleship and concepts of growth, expansion and potential have been huge influences in this. check - I'm interested in expansion.

4. Driven people tend to have a limited regard for integrity.
"Because the goal is so important, they drift into ethical shabbiness. Driven people become frighteningly pragmatic."

I don't think I have sacrificed my integrity on the altar of a goal, but I am pragmatic, most of the time.

5. Driven people are not likely to bother themselves with the honing of people skills.

6. Driven people tend to be highly competitive.

Uhhh... yeah. It's possible that nothing has gotten me into more trouble in my life than my competitiveness. Since High School, when a couple of people hit me square between the eyes with this act, I've made serious attempts to control this, sometimes successful, sometimes not-so. check - I'm competitive.

7. A driven person often possesses a volcanic force of anger...
Yes, I have a temper. It doesn't show up too often, probably with Bridgette more than anything/anywhere else, but yes, - check, I have a temper.

8. Driven people are usually abnormally busy, are averse to play, and usually avoid spiritual worship.
"They are too busy for the pursuit of ordinary relationships in marriage, family or friendship, or even to carry on a relationship with themselves-not to speak of one with God."

This maybe more than any other didn't seem to jive with me. I love people, I love to interact with people. I love my wife and my sons. I have some great friends. Then I read on, to see MacDonald say "I have, at one time or another, seen in myself almost all of the traits I have listed." And I had to admit, there have been times where I have been driven to abandon those relationships in the "greater" pursuit of some goal.

Seeing myself as a driven person was and continues to be somewhat of a struggle. What I appreciated most about MacDonald in this respect, is when he diagnosed this in himself, he said this:
"What I had to learn was that my drivenness needed to be consecrated on a daily basis...To ignore the possibility that my life could be taken over by the spirit of drivenness would be to my peril."

I'm going to try to avoid that same peril myself. Maybe you've read this and discovered a certain amount of drivenness in you. Maybe we can all avoid this peril...

Part I: Ordering Your Private World


Darren said...

So, is he saying that being a "driven" person is bad? Or that it can get out of control and be bad? Since I don't think most people would see being driven, at least as it seems to be perceived, as a bad thing.

Anyway, it's important to remember as a procrastinator that, "If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do!" ;)

I used to be a far worse procrastinator than I am now. But I definitely still fall into the trap more often than I'd like.

Don said...

Darren - he actually juxtaposes driven with "called" - which he believes is a more appropriate & affective motivation. I'll hit on that in the next post.

jlee said...

I'm glad to see that you have ordered your private world just enough so that you could read "Ordering Your Private World."

I thought about listing some of the content from his book too when I read it last year. His section on wasting time was particular eye-opening to me (and still is)...

Erik said...

This post hit home for me in some considerable ways. I look forward to hearing more about the distinction between drivenness and called-ness. I think there is a place for healthy ambition, if that makes sense, but only as it arises from our sense of call. For instance, I love to write, would love to write a book, and have some ambition towards that end. Am I driven? Perhaps, but I also feel it is part of a calling. Now, if I never write a book, but continue to live as faithfully as possible, so be it. Therein lies the healthy tension, it seems to me, between being driven and ambitiously pursuing your call. Does that make any sense?