Updated: Aug 22, 2020
In order to understand what drives you as an individual, you need to dig deeper. Let’s therefore talk a bit about behaviour. Let me warn you that purists would take offence to the picture we are going to paint, but that is a separate discussion on its own. We are all familiar with the concept of left brain which is primarily focussed on logic, process, ownership etc. Similarly, the right brain drives creativity, self-expression and fosters relationships.
What we don’t realise is that we also have a front brain and a rear brain. The front brain in common parlance is about taking risks and the back brain in the same light is about avoiding risks. At the core of who we are, lies our table of values. When I say values, I mean values that you acquire genetically, socially from friends and family and societally from the society. We build our view of the world and shape it constantly by evaluating the experiences, comparing it against our previous experiences. We then decide to either add this knowledge to alter our perception and as a result our behaviour, or we could decide to ignore it as it does not support our beliefs and values.
Let me start by narrating a story. The story on Behavioural personification(BP) warrants you to take a journey back in time to understand how we as people evolved. When we were born, we were pure/ clean with no preconceived notions or perceptions. We saw the world in absolutes. Black or white… Happy or unhappy… We relied on people (mainly our parents) and did not do anything risky. Even when we were not moving we were rapidly absorbing the world around us. The sense of smell, the colour, the environment we were and were also forming our first judge
ments. We learnt that when we are hungry and cry we get fed and when we are cold we get wrapped up and so on. This learning got embedded into our table of values. Notice that we were all addressed as Angels and boy oh boy we were loved by everyone. We needed people to be around and we loved giving attention and getting attention in bucket loads.
We then started to move. We started crawling and then started exploring the world, with our hands, legs, tongue… This journey of discovery still needed the support of people (mainly parents) and we were allowed to take risks. Every time we discovered something, we would subconsciously visit our table of values and enrich our view of the world. This is the phase where our creativity juices get going. This is where we use the same toys repeatedly to figure things out and try different combinations. This is the phase where we tend to use art and play with toys like Lego to kick start our self-expression, which then fuels our ability to form a personality during this stage. Increased mobility leads us to expand our horizons and we also learn to synthesise information in a meaningful way.
Once we feel that we have discovered the world enough we then tend to do things, which were initially prohibited by our parents. During this stage, we crave for a need to stop being reliant and becoming more independent. When someone tries to feed us, we turn around and say I can do it. We sort of see and believe that we are invincible. We are the next Super Hero to walk on earth.
When we grow in confidence, we tend to do riskier things more often than not. Jumping on the stairs rather than just descending from them. We tend to become defiant and value our sense of achievement and accomplishment spurs us to do more. Through defiance we experience winning an argument and also leads us to experience failures. We understand the power or rewards and reprimands – Remember the naughty step? We imbibe these leanings and build our table of values.
In this cycle, we also realise that not every adventure we embark on, reveals our heroic nature. Our failures or reprimands teach us that we need to learn more. We now work out a formal system to understand the world. We chart the courses, identify pitfalls and take a more cautious approach to taking risks. We cease to be reckless and tend to explore and engineer the world more objectively through this new found wisdom.
This is the driver which fuels a sense of ownership as we believe we can control our outcomes by taking control, owning it, understanding it. This sense of ownership fuels our desire to improve who we are to become the best version of ourselves. Once again, these leanings help shape the table of values as we grow up.
We never stop going through this cycle of drivers: Angel (Starts when we are born), Discoverer, Hero (Active phase between 2 to 6 years), Engineer (6 to 11 years). We tend to form a concrete operational view of the world by this stage (not surprising we have 11+ tests at this stage). We go through our experiences of the world and shape the drivers. Whilst we all have the ability to be all the drivers, our table of values and our model of the world helps us use a dominant driver. This then influences how we take in the experiences we encounter later on during our life.
Seeing a spider could instil fear or curiosity and we could either be heroic and grab the spider by its arms or decide to be kind like an angel to it. Our behaviours are constantly influenced by the drivers as a result. The language we speak, how we speak and the meaning we associate are all influenced by this.
Whilst there are many applications, in an organisation the first application helps us to understand how drivers can influence team work. A hero is focused on winning and would normally push people to achieve what they want to achieve. They are the red leaders where winning, being competitive drives them. If they have a team of angels then the heroes would struggle as angels value team work, love to pull rather than push people. This can cause frustration in both parties. Similarly, when discoverers in a team start on their journey, they can be seen as reckless, less practical woolly, indecisive people by engineers who want to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.
If a team has its engineers and heroes, they will be able to focus on planning, winning and could easily forget that they need to carry people with them. This also creates a winner’s block, as that mind-set alone would prevent them from trying new ways of doing things where discoverers thrive. As a result, the team could be good but struggle to become great. If a team has discoverers and angels, they tend to work well. There is a lot of harmony amongst them but frustration can creep in as discoverers would keep shifting goal posts as they get excited by new ideas and angels would not move till everyone is on board.
Every driver has a place in the team and the challenge is to acknowledge that and also appreciate that a team will need to have almost all of these drivers to perform effectively. By understanding what drives you and your team members, you can clearly appreciate their view point. If you can do that, you can communicate in a way that is endearing and appeals to them. BP helps open the doors to this wonderful journey of self-discovery and helps create teams that work effectively to move from good to great.
So what drives you? Are you a Hero, Engineer, Angel or a Discoverer? Find out more by getting in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.