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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

From the book, Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices, by Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria:

Lawrence and Nohria spin together lessons from biology and social sciences to describe a theory of human nature. The lessons they highlight apply to every relationship we navigate and so, there’s good lessons here for the entrepreneur.

Our choices are driven by a desire to acquire, bond, learn, and defend.

Acquiring: builds on competition for scarce resources.

Bonding: includes sharing tasks, joint performance and being part of a group.

Balancing acquisition and bonding is key. Inherent in this balance is a tension between cut-throat competition and respectful relationships. Think dodge-ball: Try to tell nine-year-old boys that everyone wins – no game. Try to play without rules – utter chaos. Combine winners and losers with clear boundaries: favourite-sport-of-all-time.

In the second half of the equation lives learning and defending. Learning scratches the itch of curiosity – the drive to resolve the gap between the known and the unknown. And defending means fending off attacks both internal and external – this is mine, screw off.

Defending is different than competition. Defending involves a legitimate claim of ownership. Competition spins on strongest player wins. Their nature overlaps but each are distinct.

Together these four drives define how we make choices. We need to be engaged and engage others in all four drives. For the entrepreneur quality, resonance, novelty, and reliability must justify the price.

Similarly, the relation between entrepreneurs and their suppliers, to remain sustainable, need to engage both buyers and sellers in all four drives.

But the lesson really hits home when you catch an entrepreneur boot-strapping. The clueless don’t understand these drives but the artful play these drivers without dropping a single dime.

Acquire, bond, learn and defend – criteria for the successful entrepreneur.

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