Born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum in 1905 to a Jewish family in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ayn Rand, as she came to be known in the US, became one of the 20th centuries most controversial and influential authors and philosophers.
After the Russian Revolution, her family’s business was confiscated by the government as the country became a worker’s paradise. She watched individualism and personal ambition be subjugated to statism and collectivism.
Immigrating to the United States in 1925. Arriving in New York on February 25th of that year, she cried what she called “tears of splendor” at the site of the Manhattan skyline. Migrating gradually west, she ended up in Los Angeles becoming a friend of Cecile B. DeMille.
Becoming a US citizen in 1931, Ayn Rand enjoyed her first literary success in 1932 selling a screenplay called The Red Pawn to Universal Studios. She is best remembered these days for her novels “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.”
She founded what has come to be known as objectivism rejecting faith and mysticism. She also became a strong and fierce advocate of individual responsibility and liberty. In Atlas Shrugged she wrote “that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live,” and “the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch.” Throughout her life, Ayn Rand was driven by a purpose to leave her mark on the world and she succeeded.
In the previous post I wrote about what goes wrong when you don’t have drive and purpose. In this post I want to address the other side of the coin. Here are 8 reasons why superlative leaders possess drive and purpose:
- When you have drive and purpose, work is not work. It isn’t play either. But it is that wonderful match of values, ambitions, motives, ambitions, skills, talents, and opportunity.
- Drive is energy and ambition, purpose is reason and motive. Drive pushes you forward. Purpose draws you forward. Drive is the get up and go. It starts where you start. Purpose is the “got there” side of the trip, it makes you want to endure the challenges of the journey.
- Purpose is the sum of all your values and ambitions. What you do, how you do it, and what is realized as a result of those efforts reveals why.
- Being busy is good but in the end unfulfilling and unrewarding unless you are busy for the right reasons and towards the right ends. And only you can determine what those reasons are and what the ends should be… and it is never all about you. Superlative leaders become remembered for more than what they did. They are remembered for what they did, how they did it, and how it left a positive impact. Their life counted for something.
- The minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years you spend working add up to the sum total of your life’s contribution to human history. Therefore what you live for is the same as what you die for. You give your life for something. Everyone does. The question to be answered is what and why. For some the week is spent so one may enjoy the weekend. Many have nothing more invested in their career than the time between paychecks. Superlative leaders have far more at risk and they know it. Some see their life in two week segments. But you don’t. You see it is its totality.
- Purpose and drive put obstacles and setbacks in perspective. No one escapes reversals or challenges. No one. Drive and purpose is the horsepower and the torque to get through them.
- Purpose and drive simplifies life. It enables you to make priorities quite readily and set schedules with confidence and without apology. Once values are clarified and ambitions are focused, once talents and skills are understood and motives are identified, the resulting purpose and drive makes life’s choices quite simple. With confidence and ease one makes the decisions that eliminate conflicting opportunities. (Shameless self-promotion here – if you haven’t done so already, my Mastering Your Time mini-course shows you how to do exactly that. Sign up for it here. It’s completely free of charge.)
- Superlative leaders understand that as long as they’re breathing, their purpose in life is not complete. Retirement is not a cessation of activity. It is not an end to really important and useful tasks. Superlative leaders keep at it longer, engage life more fully, and accomplish more because they long ago settled that their purpose in life is not to disengage and play golf 5 days a week. It is so much more than that…and it is why so many people of drive and purpose lives life so full for so long.
So I end with a favorite quote from motivational speaker and author Steven Maraboli – “I want to live my life in such a way that when I get out of bed in the morning, the devil says, “aw sh*t, he’s up!”
There are worlds to conquer and some of them have your name on them. Go make them your own.