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

destroy you

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Win the Internal Battle You’re Fighting

The internal battle in leadership is the hardest. The good news is there’s help and there’s hope.

I tackle cynicism, pride, moral compromise, irrelevance, burnout and other key issues in depth in my book, Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.

I’ve personally navigated these seven challenges in varying degrees, and in Didn’t See It Coming, I not only outline how leaders get taken out by the things they didn’t see coming.

There’s an antidote to each challenge and some very practical steps you can take so issues like cynicism, pride, irrelevance and emptiness no longer define your present or your future.  Once a cynic, not always a cynic.

You can pick up your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here (hardcover, AudioBook or Kindle) and once again (or for the first time) discover how to thrive in life leadership.

To listen to a free chapter of the audiobook click here.

What Do You See?

When any of these things starts to happen, I consider it a warning sign that my discontent is moving from a place where it drives me to a place where it might harm me or others.

What other warning signs do you see that the discontent that drives you is starting to destroy you?

How have you seen discontent hurt you or people you care about?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

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


  1. James on December 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Throw in some festering resentment and it’s only worse..
    Yeah that’s a voice of experience.

  2. Rodney on November 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Great, timely post. Thanks Carey! I really see myself in every single area and will now be on guard against them.

    Be blessed

  3. Joel on November 29, 2018 at 7:20 am

    I’d add, the panic attacks conserning where you think the ministry should be don’t match your internal picture of where the ministry is. To number two…

  4. Joel on November 29, 2018 at 7:19 am

    I’d add, the panic attacks conserning where you think the ministry should be don’t match your internal picture of where the ministry is.

  5. Heather Bell-Williams on November 29, 2018 at 5:32 am

    Ugh…..the arrogance piece….it comes out in thoughts and sometimes even words like, “why doesn’t everyone think like me so we can get moving and get the job done ?!” …..when my husband makes a calendar error and double books or somehow doesn’t get a scheduling piece I truly see it as a character flaw!

  6. Len on November 28, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Ouch!! That’s me too much of the time.

  7. Benjamin on April 27, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    As a previous question was asked— how do we get out of this when we realize that we are in it?

  8. Ethan Estes on April 27, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Whoever has the most hope has the most influence!

  9. Olivier on April 27, 2018 at 6:41 am

    Thank you Carey for this post. Can you give some biblical scriptures?

  10. […] This article originally appeared here. […]

  11. Josh Carter on March 30, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    This is great! I have personally started to recognize this in my own life and this article makes it clear to me.

    My question is, how do you avoid your discontent from becoming dysfunctional. And how do you recover if it is already like what is explained in this article?

  12. Tom Blair on March 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    enuf said…

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