7 Signs What’s Driving You Is Beginning to Destroy You

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There are a thousand fine lines in leadership.

Perhaps the most subtle and dangerous line is the fine line between what drives you and what destroys you.

Being driven is not an inherently bad thing. In fact, leveraged well, it’s a huge leadership asset.

You get things done, mobilize people around great causes and make things happen.

Driven leaders are often the ones who create something out of nothing, who make things better and who move the mission forward.

So what drives driven leaders?

Well, hang out with driven leaders long enough and you’ll discover this common thread: discontent with the status quo.

Discontent is actually a good thing. It makes you a change agent in a world where most people avoid change.

But the discontent that drives leaders is a double edged sword.

Holy discontent is from God.

It drives you to

Push on relentlessly toward progress

Work tirelessly for a better day

Trust beyond yourself

Resist injustice

Demand better

Lead people to a preferred vision of a better future

Not quit

And if you’re like me, you’ve alway got some level of discontent burning under the surface.

It’s hard to sit still. Even when you’re off, your brain is still on.

But discontent has a shadow side.

It can move from a good force that’s driving you to place where it starts to destroy you, and if you’re not careful, the others around you.

There’s one thing every driven leader has to watch, and it’s this: don’t let the discontent that drives you become the discontent that destroys you.

Don’t let the discontent that drives you become the discontent that destroys you. Click To Tweet

So what are the signs that’s what driving you is beginning to destroy you? Well, here are 7. Discontent become destructive when it:

1. Stops you from celebrating

Any driven leader knows how hard it is to celebrate. When you cross the line from and your drive begins to destroy you, it feels like this: you think it was amazing, but you can’t stop wondering what would have made it more amazing.

You can’t mark the progress you’ve made because you only see the progress you haven’t made.

And that kills your team.

To make it worse, you even stop celebrating God’s faithfulness and instead substitute the celebration of your progress.

Don’t miss the progress you’ve made because you can only see the progress you haven’t made.

Don't miss the progress you've made because you can only see the progress you haven't made. Click To Tweet

2. Kills your gratitude

You begin to only think about what could be better. Gratitude decreases as discontent increases.

Not only will ingratitude make you miserable; it’s ultimately demotivating to the people around you.

If you want to defeat your team, be ungrateful.

Gratitude decreases as discontent increases. Click To Tweet

3. Invades too many aspects of your life

I can try to improve everything and everyone, including my wife and other people I meet

This is not good for anyone. (Enough said.)

If discontent takes over your life, you won’t have much of a life.

If discontent takes over your life, you won't have much of a life. Click To Tweet

4. Makes you the negative voice at the table

I have to catch myself during evaluation sessions (we do weekly evaluations on our services) because I will find the 1.2 things that went wrong and miss the 98.8 things that went right.

You shouldn’t miss the 1.2 things. But you shouldn’t dwell on them either.

When you only see what’s wrong and rarely see what’s right, you deflate the people around you.

When you only see what's wrong and rarely see what's right, you deflate the people around you. Click To Tweet

5. Gets you off a project you should still be on

When discontent becomes too pervasive, it can stop you from finishing projects you started because you become discontent with…well even the solution you should still be working on.

Serial discontent will make you start things you never finish. And that’s a problem for everyone.

6. Makes you arrogant

If I let discontent get too much real estate in my life, it shows up as arrogance.

Nothing’s ever good enough.

I’m always right.

We need to do more….now.

Arrogance is only attractive to the arrogant.

Arrogance is only attractive to the arrogant. Click To Tweet

7. Disables hope

We leaders are dealers in hope. Hope is such a rare commodity.

When discontent becomes toxic, your future becomes about what’s wrong, not about what’s right.

Unhealthy discontent disables hope, and hope is the greatest motivator your team has.

Unhealthy discontent disables hope, and hope is the greatest motivator your team has. Click To Tweet

Can't find the time to get it all done? Become a high-impact leader without burning out (or sacrificing yourself).

Without a new strategy and approach, it's easy to continue to:

  • Sacrifice family on the altar of work
  • Overcommit and underdeliver
  • Have no time for what you actually want to do
  • Struggle to get time off to refuel and relax

Worst of all, other people—other tasks, jobs, and projects—will continue to hijack your life.

It’s time to change that by implementing a strategy that works.

At Your Best is a proven strategy to get your time, energy, and priorities working in your favor. It's my step-by-step online course that will help you overcome stress, find a sustainable pace without losing impact, and be far more productive at work.

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This message so profoundly impacted us, that we named our annual company theme, “At Our Best,” using Carey’s system and resources to strengthen our culture and make health a priority this year.”

Sean CannellFounder and CEO, Think Media

Whatever you choose to do with it is up to you. Join today for instant access.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.