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A driven mind leads to hope

In August, I wrote about the professional benefits of turning fear marketing into hope marketing. Now, as the leaves turn to brilliant fall colors, my hopes turn to the brilliant mind of Dr. Paul Lawrence, the professor at Harvard Business School, who died one year ago Nov. 1.

Dr. Lawrence, a leader in the study of organizational behavior, co-authored (with Nitin Nohria) the 2002 book Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices. This remarkably eloquent book introduced us to four basic human drives that determine our behaviors. In essence, Dr. Lawrence said, all people are driven to: acquire and defend, to bond and comprehend.

These drives, he theorized, also shape the organizations where we work. Good leaders, he once wrote, hold these four drives in “dynamic balance.” Few theories hold so much credibility today.

In fact, as I listened to a recent presentation about Dr. Lawrence’s Four Drives, by author Peter Sheahan (Fl!P) at the COLLOQUY Loyalty Summit, I realized there are many parallels between the four drives and the five hopes I suggest marketers use. These hopes are each the inverse of one of our most basic fears, which marketers exploit too often.

So in honor of Dr. Lawrence, I’d humbly like to submit how his drives lead to hope:

To acquire = the hope for status and significance. This drive goes against the fear of insignificance, when we are not recognized and valued for our accomplishments.

To defend = the hope of safety and order. The drive to defend is the opposite of the fear of chaos, and the inability to control one’s responsibilities and working environment.

To bond = the hope of community and confidence. This drive represents the inverse of the fear of strangers, who may threaten our success or well-being.

To comprehend = the hope for clarity, vision and opportunities. This drive counters the fear of the unknown, and the inability to understand what it required to grow.

There is a fifth fear that marketers like to use to sell products – the fear of death. To me, the inverse of this fear is the hope of wellness and security, which represents success no matter how one measures it – by happiness, accomplishments, skills or intelligence. The four drives lead to this goal.

In Dr. Lawrence’s obituary, the Boston Globe retold a wonderful story that shows he was a student of human behavior from a very young age. At 6, he recalled, he confided in his father that while he really loved him, he loved his mother more. “I told him that I had figured out why. ‘I am only related to you by marriage,’ ” he said.

Here’s hope that Dr. Lawrence’s drive guides us for years to come.

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