Brainfood: Words-Worth - Driving

These days, a manager has to be able to drive. Not steer a motor vehicle - that's taken as read - but 'drive sales', 'drive change' and 'drive innovation'. You have to make things happen. In this sense, 'driving' is essentially about doing things to, or through, other people. It reflects the verb's Teutonic origins as a word meaning to force people or animals to move by the use or threat of violence. In its earliest Old English appearance, it has Jesus forcing money-lenders from the temple. Nowadays, it's a matter of persuasion. If you master that, you can become a 'driver', though you won't get a peaked cap or a Yorkie bar. Job ads reveal that the rough, tough verb has largely replaced the personal quality of 'drive'.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Originally a psychological term, drive is an internal mechanism that moves an organism (you) towards a goal. It's a translation of the German Trieb, a racy concept that occupied the likes of Freud at a time when an Englishman's drive was the stretch of gravel outside his front door.

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