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G. Woodson 14 May 2011
Transcript of Drive
It can be motivation.
Or will power.
Or sheer desire to achieve a goal. It lies within everyone,
but it's up to us to find it.
It can help us focus, or it can
give us the power to do things
we never believed possible. But why do we care?
And where'd this sudden interest come from? It all started with this picture.
(Oh, and pardon the watermark.) Geo Ham (George Hamel) is best known for his posters created for Grand Prix races in the early 1900s. An artist and part time race car driver, his work was used for promotional posters and in French magazines throughout the 1930s, '40s and '50s. So yes, this event actually happened. 'Formula 2' referred to the engine formula used amongst all the racers to make sure all cars were about the same.
Engines used were smaller and less powerful than the top tier of racing, Formula 1. So besides the obvious pun on 'drive,' what does a poster from 1958 have to do with one's personal drive? Let's take a look at what Grand Prix racing was like in the '50s and '60s. Keep an eye on the crowd's relative position to the track, the amount of runoff the track doesn't have, how exposed the driver is, etc. But if the sport was so dangerous, you might ask, why would they still do it? Surely driving a car fast isn't worth one's life, right? Look again, this time from actual race footage in 1970.
Here at the mammoth Spa Francorchamps circuit in
Belgium, safety precautions are almost nonexistant as can
plainly be seen by the spectators and photographers. Sigmund Freud said that our inner desires and motivation come from the desires of our id. The id craves things, and thus the need to fulfill its urges drives us to do what we may not otherwise do. But not everyone likes or listens to Sigmund. David McClelland, (the appropriately-named for this presentation) Victor Vroom and many others believe it's more than just our id. They say our inner drive comes from our innate desire to achieve (the Achievement Motive) or to be in control (known as the Power Motive). Hofstede (1980) found that this notion of achievment may not be innate, though, as some cultures don't even have adequate words to describe what "achievement" actually is. According to Hofstede, in the U.S., achievement has roughly the same worth as "Self Actualization" in Maslow's Hierarchy of needs (which is really saying something about achievement). Interestingly, this is still above social needs which are above security needs. But don't you need the bottom ones before you can reach the top? Then how does this explain athletes like the F1 drivers who endanger themselves by striving to win a race? Humans' perceptions of pleasure and motivation are due to reward pathways in the brain which operate via neurotransmitters.
These chemicals, when detected by neurons, lead us to feel excitement, ecstasy and pleasure. When incentives like winning a race, making birdie on the 18th hole or kicking the go-ahead field goal are analyzed by the brain, incentive-reward pathways in the corticolimbic-striatal-thalamic system are used. Whoa, were you just blinded by science?
My apologies if so. And this thrill can be pretty strong, too. Some mice with electrostimulatory devices implanted into the reward pathways in their brains were allowed to administer stimulation at will. Some mice pressed the button to administer the stimulation to the pathway hundreds of times a minute! Since ethical restrictions prevent humans from being able to use these devices on themselves any time they want, we have to seek other methods of activating that pathway. Sometimes this can come from listening to something motivating. This is common in athletics, where sports stars will arive to the event wearing earphones and listening to their iPods. But did you know? In 2007 organizers of the New York Marathon BANNED athletes from listening to music during the run? This was to cut down on opportunities to strategize with teammates/coaches. So have you ever listened to the Rocky theme song, "Gonna Fly Now" and felt pumped up? That's partially because you may know the story behind Rocky and feel inspired anyway, but it could also be because it has the right number of beats-per-minute that Karageorghis and Priest said should get you motivated. What about in individual athletes? What does 'drive' mean to them? Where does it come from?
This is tough to answer, because for each athlete, their motivation comes from different places. For Lance Armstrong, it comes from nearly dying of testicular cancer, and being told he'd never be able to ride a bike again. For Damon Hill, it came from carrying on his late father's legacy, and trying to be a World Drivers Champion just like old Dad (which he did in 1996). For Jackie Robinson, it came from representing an entire race in the face of bigotry and racism while being the first to break baseball's color barrier. But this isn't to say that drive is only found in athletes. The everyday person can be motivated just as much, whether it be from music, personal convictions, hearing motivational speakers, etc. The possibilities are endless. And for as long as there will be people, there will continue to be representations in various media of the inner drive of humans. Whether it be in the form of an all-telling look... ...or as an allegorical depiction of the struggles ahead... ...the mystery and the unrivalled power of our inner drive will always fascinate and motivate, whether it be in a student studying for finals or a mountain climber scaling Everest. The common thread that links them on the most basic human level is the emotion of their... The End. Arnold Palmer, in his 1973 book "Go For Broke!", said that the drive within us all can allow us to do great things, but we must never let it cloud our judgement or make us blind to reality. After all, while he won many golf tournaments, Arnie's bold choices (fuelled by his intense drive) led him to lose nearly as many tournaments as he won. Chris Economaki, famous motor sports journalist, said from his observations that the same type of inner drive has been fuelling athletes and people alike for his entire life, and Mr. Economaki is now in his 80s.