Desire, Drive, and Happiness

“Virtually every one of us was born with a hunger for life itself, with what I call a passion for the promises of life, and that passion can take one to the heights. Unfortunately, in too many of us, it devolves into drive. Entrepreneur Larry Wilson defined the difference between desire and drive as the difference between expressing yourself and proving yourself. In a perfect world, everyone would be encouraged to express himself, and no one would be required to prove himself, but neither the world nor we are perfect. In order to avoid booby-trapping ourselves, then, we must understand that drive is healthy only when married to desire.

“Drive divorced from desire is always hazardous, sometimes lethal, while drive in the service of desire is always productive, and usually rewarding — in every sense of that word…

“[Publisher] Gloria Anderson summed it up. “You can’t make being a leader your principal goal, any more than you can make being happy your goal. In both cases, it has to be the result, not the cause.”

— Warren Bennis, in the first edition of On Becoming a Leader (1989), since revised as On Becoming A Leader: The Leadership Classic–Updated And Expanded (2003).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *