The 2020 Summer Olympic Games are underway, and the world’s best athletes and their years of hard work, dedication, and skill are on full display. It’s magnificent and inspiring to watch. As an Olympic enthusiast and the mom of an elite athlete, I often find myself wondering what compels a person to train for hours, days, weeks, and years to get to the pinnacle of their sport.

I know from watching my son that there’s a sense of urgency, a compulsiveness that comes with the thought of achieving his goals. There’s a desire to win and be the absolute best he can be.

And that’s not because of external pressure or wanting to please others. It’s an innate characteristic – an internal fire – that compels him to keep going when he’s tired or feels like giving up.

When I strip away all the layers, this comes down to personal drive. He operates, moves, and is controlled by a specific source of power (Gino Wickman, Entrepreneurial Leap), and that trait is one you also see in true entrepreneurs.

In our series, Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur, we’re tackling the six entrepreneurial traits, and today is #4 – Driven.

Entrepreneurs by nature are tenacious, self-motivated, and goal- and growth-oriented. They don’t give up when the going gets tough. They’re relentless in their pursuit of their goals.

I’d argue that this trait alone is one of the most common reasons entrepreneurs fail. Most people who talk and dream about starting a business don’t really want to work that hard, especially not in the face of trials and difficulties. That’s why entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It truly requires a unique person to stick it out and go the distance.

So, what does drive really look like? There’s no test or assessment that will truly show you whether or not a person has that internal fire. Rather, it’s how you show up. 

People who are driven:

  • Say no to anything that doesn’t further their goals or move them forward
  • Are present for themselves and their business
  • Show up online and in person – consistently
  • Make one more sales call at the end of the day; they go the distance
  • Believe deeply in what’s possible for themselves, their clients, and their business
  • See projects through to the end
  • Press forward and don’t give up, even when they fall down or come up against an obstacle
  • Are comfortable being uncomfortable and doing hard things because they know that’s part of the process
  • Learn and grow; never give up
  • Work hard (and smart)
  • Want to succeed, to be the best

The list could go on and on, but I think you can see that this isn’t something that’s just learned. Being driven is something that’s innate.

I feel compelled to say that there’s a fine line between drive and burnout. First and foremost, you’re a person, and it’s imperative that you take care of yourself. This means downtime, radical self care, asking for help, relying on others to help fill your gaps, and having other interests and meaningful relationships. It means finding joy in the work you do, feeling excited and passionate, even when things are hard. When that sense of purpose and excitement disappears, it’s time to pause and reevaluate where you are in your business and how it aligns with you and your goals.

How does drive show up for you and your business? Are you pouring yourself into something that lights you up from the inside out? Is your own “Olympic flame” ablaze and fueling your passion and activity?

Or are you pushing through with dying embers?

If you’re struggling to find the will and motivation, I’d invite you to take the Entrepreneurial Assessment and see where you stand on this trait and the five others.

Life’s too short to build a business if you don’t really have the drive or desire to do it.

Howard Thurman sums this up best in one of my favorite quotes. “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

P.S. If you’re struggling and looking for a community to help you find your flame and turn up the gas, join us inside the Employee to Entrepreneur group on Facebook. This group is full of driven, passionate, and committed women who are doing work that lights them up brighter than the Olympic cauldron. We’d love to have you.