I’m convinced, as I grow older, that the way of life I saw as normal during my formative years is an increasingly unpopular lifestyle. The idea of being driven to do something profitable with your time, all of the time, is something of which most people have no concept. Logical, reasoned thought is a luxury many take no time to afford; in fact, it seems that most seek to live their entire life without entertaining a serious thought about anything.
Is such a life really a bane upon mankind? To answer this question, one must dig a little deeper into the meaning of that word, bane. Simply put, a bane is “a cause of great distress or annoyance.” It seems, therefore, that the answer to this question lies within one’s view of how life is supposed to be. If, as some posit, life is a Sunday stroll, to be enjoyed while sauntering along, then yes, one could assume that work is a burden, a cause of great distress, or an annoyance.
However, if life is hard, and yet good, then work is a necessary part of a good life. Far from being a repressive stricture, then, hard work is the required structure upon which an extraordinary life must be built.
This is a watershed concept, and a proper grasp of the place of work in a man’s life is a must if he would see his hopes and dreams realized and solidified into accomplishments.
Think of the titans of industry from yesteryear. Andrew Carnegie. Thomas Edison. J. P. Morgan. Cornelius Vanderbilt. John D. Rockefeller. Each of these men created massive companies and holdings–sometimes cutting entirely new industries from whole cloth–in pursuit of greatness. Though they were flawed human beings, much can be garnered from their struggles with (and subsequent triumphs over) difficulties that would have forever broken men of lesser fortitude.
Guts. Intuition. Innovative solutions. These men had all these things in common. But they had one more thing in common, the one thing often overlooked; or, worse yet, vilified in today’s passivistic, neutrality-obsessed, mediocrity-crazed world. That one thing may be summed in one word:
The turning point of any man’s life is when he sees for the first time, for himself, the fundamental truth that all extraordinary people understand: in this world, you either drive, or you are driven.
The Externally Driven Man, a person who is driven (by external forces) constantly sees the world as against him, complains about the way his life is turning out, and accepts the status quo, believing it to be enough. He schleps into the mediocrity continuum, unaware that his burden of bitterness has him sliding relentlessly toward oblivion, namelessness, and a forgettable style of living.
External Combustion, the fire without, is useful in some regards, namely for destruction, and–in some cases–light. However, its uses are extremely limited because this type of power is much harder to control. Think of a forest fire rampaging through a stand of trees. Man must stand in awe of its power! This power, though, is of little use because of its unconstrained nature. So man, left to the external drive of his circumstances, is of little use to himself or anyone else.
By contrast, The Internally Driven Man, one who is driven (by an internal fire) to see the world as a proving ground, a puzzle to be solved, and a problem to be logically worked, is one who leaps into the mediocrity continuum, dropping the bombshell that things do not have to continue as they have in times past. He sees and experiences the same difficulties as the EDM, but through an entirely different set of lenses. Much like donning a new set of prescription glasses, he sees the benefits to be had from the struggle, and rather than running from it, leaps to meet it head-on, seeking to overcome and learn from it.
This is not to say that the IDM is “spoiling for a fight,” as the colloquial phrase runs. Rather, he embraces the challenge of life, taking all comers, that he may understand and learn some concept to help him succeed in tomorrow’s battle.
Internal Combustion, the fire within; ah, therein lies the secret to true power. Think of the vehicle that carries you to work. A car, a bus, an airplane, a train; chances are, it is powered by some sort of internal combustion engine. Wherein does the secret of this powerful engine lie? Within. The force that powers the engine is, in fact, a controlled explosion, the more useful because its destructive nature is controlled, caged, harnessed, and channelled into a useful form. The piston exploding downward forces the connecting rod downward, which drives the crankshaft around, which turns the flywheel, which spins the driveshaft; and, at last, the power is mated to the wheels which drive the vehicle forward.
Now, take a moment to ask yourself: Am I an EDM, or an IDM? Do I let life drive me? Or am I driven from within to make a life I want to live?
There are ethical and moral constraints which must govern the Internally Driven Man, to be sure, but we will visit those in future posts. For now, a good, hard look at how one responds to difficulties, and nailing down whether one is internally or externally driven, is sufficient.
Until next time, stay strong, stay thoughtful, and stay driven.
Internally Driven, that is.