Desire vs. drive

A desire passes. “Oh, that is so cool,” you say. A strong desire may even consume your mind for a few days, but eventually you forget about it.

A drive is more like a compulsion. “I need to do that,” or “It has to be this way,” and you can’t stop thinking about it for months or years. It may feel like an obsession.

For example, Robert Caro is driven by care and quality. He can’t stop going deeper into his research, which is why writing a book takes so long for him. “Whatever it is that makes me do research the way I do, it’s not something I’m proud of, and it’s not something for which I can take the credit—or the blame,” he writes in Working. “It just seems to be a part of me.”

In How to Get Rich, Felix Dennis cautions against mistaking desire for drive when starting a business to get rich. He writes, “When the going gets tough, when all seems lost, when partners and luck desert you, when bankruptcy and failure are staring you in the face, all that can sustain you is a fierce compulsion to succeed at any price.” If you don’t grow and feed this drive, you have lower odds of succeeding—but you’ll still go through all of the pains of starting your own business.

Drive is sticking with a decision you’ve committed to, until you’ve achieved it. There’s no giving up, and there’s no turning back. You’re not going to be the only one making sacrifices to get into a better position. In times of desperation, you may be asking your spouse, family, and friends to make them too—to move around with you, to spend less quality time together, maybe even for financial support. 

Whatever it takes.

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