The most obvious reason for getting a job, embarking on a career and striving for professional success is money. In fact, ample evidence suggests that money is the only motivating factor behind work. For example, many teenagers get their first job when they turn 16 so they can save up for a car. Likewise, professionals in their twenties and thirties work hard so they can ask for promotions, which, in turn, gives them enough financial capital to buy a house.
From my experience, however, people are also driven to work for reasons that have little or nothing to do with money or financial security. People can be motivated by intrinsic rewards found in meaningful work and positive acknowledgment. My motivation originates from an innate sense of competition and a desire for achievement. These driving factors have been part of me since I was a little girl growing up on my family’s tobacco farm.
The whole family, including my siblings and I, helped grow, harvest and sell tobacco. My Dad loved every aspect of the work, from beginning tasks, such as gassing the plant beds, to the end task of stripping the leaves to take to market. I, on the other hand, did not share my father’s passion for tobacco farming, and required a more creative form of motivation.
My parents’ solution was to make chores a competition. You won by pulling the most tobacco plants, being the fastest on the tobacco setter, hoeing the most rows and stripping the most leaves. I was so fast at pulling the plants and on the setter, that my Dad would volunteer me to help the neighbors who weren’t finished yet.
When I got older, I realized that my parents were using my sense of competition to their own advantage. But even with that knowledge, I could not resist competing in their tobacco game. My parents knew that making our work a contest would drive me to work harder and make our work more efficient– they knew that winning was, for me, its own reward.
My sense of competition has continued to motivate me in my career. Winning in the job world equates to being the best in the field. So after I graduated, I tried to get a good job and then I tried to be the best at that job. Once I got hired at what is now Dodd, Drennan & Associates, PLLC, I made it known that I wanted to be a partner and, ten years later, that’s what I became.
Making partner was difficult and required many sacrifices, but the rewards far outweigh the detriments. When I think about what motivated me to achieve my career accomplishments, I remember my family’s tobacco farm, and am thankful that my parents taught me the value of my competitive nature. There are many other motivations behind career choices. For example, my actions in making good grades, going to college and performing well was not only motivated by my sense of competition, but also my desire to not be a tobacco farmer.
There are many driving forces that motivate people to work. My motivations is my sense of competition and desire to achieve. As a little girl, these attributes motivated me to plant and harvest tobacco to the best of my ability. Later, as a young woman embarking on her career, my competitive nature helped me achieve the job I had desired since I was 10 years old : a partnership in an accounting firm.
Melinda S. Drennan | 09/24/2014
Dodd, Drennan & Associates, PLLC
1204 16th Avenue South
Nashville, TN, 37212