I used to think some people were just born Driven, and others were not. Then I read the book Drive by Daniel Pink, and it made it clear that there are three things we all need to stay driven.

I had to share this information because it will make a significant impact on your life. I love teaching about habits because they are a crucial building block to being successful, but before you can do that, you have to be driven. No one lacking in the drive is going to make an effort to build habits.

The three things you need to stay driven are purposemastery, and autonomy. You need all three of these things in your life to stay driven. What does it mean to be driven? Its when you are compelled by the need to accomplish a goal.

You could also call it ambitious, and if you don't have this, it will be hard to accomplish much of anything. You drive the reason you keep showing up even when it's hard. Let's break this down.

“Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one's sights and pushing toward the horizon.” Daniel Pink

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The purpose is your why. It’s the starting block to your drive. No purpose, and its hard to continue on the path of mastery or to even desire autonomy. Now you can develop the other two first but to go all the way purpose needs to show up in a big way.

Think about this, if you are an athlete and games never kept score, what would be the purpose? What would motivate an athlete to push themselves to the max?

You can apply this same logic to many different situations. Find the most motivating persona and take their why away, and they will crumble.

If a man is driven by the way to take care of his family and loses his whole family, it will rock his motivation. If you can take away a why and accomplish this, imagine what you can do if you add purpose to someone else. You can take the least driven person in the world give them why that matters, and it will set them on fire.

With Habit Stacker, this is why we teach people to set their mission first. The task is the big picture of why. It provides the purpose and sets the direction for what you want to accomplish.

But that why it is not enough. You need to break it down and have some goals to help you accomplish that large mission. Then day to day, you need great habits to help you destroy your go


Mastery is the journey you take to become better at a skill. The key to mastery is that it never ends.

If you get to a point and you say "good enough" you are not seeking mastery. Sometimes that is ok. When it comes to using power tools, I don't seek mastery; I need to be good enough, or I am going to call someone to do the job. When it came to track and field, though, sprinting was about mastery for me. No matter how fast I ran, I wanted more. I always thought I could get better.

Mastery means you engage in deliberate practice.

  • Focus and effortful practice
  • Have a mentor/coach to provide instant feedback
  • You have goals specific to the task
  • Focus on weaknesses

For example, someone can just run every day, and someone would assume they are on the path to mastery. The only way they would be is if they had a coach challenge them and give them feedback.

Their practice was giving an all-out effort, and there was an intense focus on everything happening. That runner had a goal of hitting a specific time at a marathon coming up. Lastly, that athlete would be focused on what things they suck at because they are already confident in their strengths.

Deliberate practice is not easy, and it's why most people can only work towards mastery in a few things in their life. It's not easy, it takes a long time, and you have to care enough to keep pushing.

The reason mastery is needed for drive is that if you are working on something and don't get on the path to mastery, you will eventually stop getting better. Then you stop getting better, you lose your drive.


The last piece of the puzzle is the ability to work on your craft on your own. The motivation to do something has to be intrinsic. Aka the person pushing their child to be a doctor is not fostering autonomy.

The only way one pursues a true purpose and works at mastery is if there is autonomy. Do you notice how little kids don’t need parents to show them what they are interested in? They are able to find their passions all on their own.

If you are not as driven as you would like, you need to ask yourself if your dream is your own. Some people live their entire lives living a dream that someone else placed on them. Then they wonder why they are not excited to work at it.

You have to chase the thing that gives you purpose. You need to do the thing that you can work on all day without anyone asking you to do it.

You could have the passion and be on the path to mastery but still not have autonomy. This usually happens when you have an overbearing, parent, boss, coach, or co-worker. When people will not give you the space to do and learn on your own you need to be wary.

Nothing will kill a driven person's dream-like someone who is all up in their kool-aid. There needs to be a healthy balance between instruction and handholding. You need to be shown the door but use your own two feet to walk through it.

Be Driven

When you have autonomy, mastery, and purpose you will be driven. These three things will make sure that you have a reason to get up and work towards an end goal.

You will have to be excited by the prospects of continuing to improve and get better. And lastly, you will have a motivation that comes from within.

When you have all three of these things it does not guarantee success but it guarantees that you will enjoy each day of your grind. You can get through obstacles much easier and quicker when you are driven to do so.

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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