HR & Management

Five steps to identify your own drivers of success

6 min read

19 January 2018

Author Susanne Jacobs sets out five steps that will allow leaders to identify their drivers of success and work out how best to utilise them.

With a new year comes renewed vigour for change and improvement. To make 2018 even more successful than the last. Maybe you want to get fitter or learn a new language, but when you have achieved your goals what will they do for you? What is the true value in pursuing each?

We face a great deal of media pressure depicting utopian versions of success. The perfect parent, the perfect body, the perfect career. But what is your perfect? We are all unique, with our own strengths, attributes and values. You’ll gain more from understanding your own drivers of success.

Research shows there are seven drivers of success. When our goals support these drivers our biological reward mechanism is triggered, spurring us on with energy and enthusiasm. Below are five of the drivers, which enable you to audit your existing goals and identify others that will build your ideal version of success.

1) Direction

We need a sense of direction and purpose that supports our core values, for any goal we set ourselves. A sense of meaning has been correlated not only to enhanced wellbeing but to longevity. The Okinawan community in Japan, studied by the Blue-Zones project, as one of the societies that lives measurably longer, have a word, “ikigai”. It means “the reason I get up in the morning”.

The Blue Zones project lists a sense of purpose as worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy. So what is your ikigai? What do you value – family, health….? How do your goals sustain these?

2) Inclusion

We are fundamentally social animals. We are not much good on our own and part of the reason we have risen to the top of the evolutionary tree has been our capacity for collaboration. Isolation and exclusion play havoc with our wellbeing.

How can you invest in your friends and family? Work can sometimes feel all-consuming to such an extent that we start to move away from the very people that really matter. If I could only give one piece of advice it would be to cherish connections. After all, when it’s all over the only thing that will really matter are these people.


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3) Voice and choice

We seek autonomy, choice and control. Do we have a voice, a say in how we manage our priorities or does life feel like someone else is in control? Are you able to balance both work and the world outside so that all the pieces of the puzzle are supported? If not, what can you do to change this? Every choice has a consequence but whilst you may not be able to control events, you can always exercise choice in your attitude and response to situations.

4) Reliability

To make sense of our environment our brain pattern matches and predicts what’s likely to happen every micro-second of each day. It allows us to respond appropriately to different events. But, when our sense of certainty and reliability is knocked we enter a neurological threat state. Change at work, financial worries and insecurity at home are just some of the things that can increase ambiguity. What do you need to make more secure?

5) Stretch

We need to adapt to survive. Let’s face it, if evolution didn’t happy Darwin would not have had much to write about. We are neurologically rewarded for the effort we put into anything worthwhile. When we step outside our comfort zone, push ourselves to reach new limits it feels great. So once you have your goals seize the opportunity to use your drivers of success to achieve them. Make each step towards the ultimate prize realistic and achievable and just a little bit uncomfortable.

Take a look at your goals against each of these drivers of success. Adjust them, add to them or delete them. And above all, be true to what really matters to you and you will find your own path to success.

Susanne Jacobs is author of DRIVERS (£14.99, Panoma Press)


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