In 1975, Taibi Kahler, an American author, psychologist and presidential communications
advisor, established and developed what he called "the five human drivers" or "the big five" that
influence the path of our lives in several facets (personnel, education, professional, network…).
According to Kahler, drivers are born with us then evolve over our lifetime (mainly during
childhood). They guide our behaviors, decisions and choices. They are affected by our families,
education and community and are occasionally called "the voices of external authorities" (parents,
teachers, society). The five human drivers are:
Many researchers consider drivers as motivators that influence our thinking, feeling and
behavior. Each one of us has one or more dominant driver.
1. Be strong:
Over our childhood, we were frequently asked to be strong. Parents or teachers used
several expressions such as: "you have to be brave", "a big boy does not cry" or "life is a struggle,
and you have to fight". This situation constructs a person influenced and directed by the "be strong
driver". He/she does not grant the right to error, sees the call for help as an admission of weakness
that should not be shown, believes to be invulnerable and considers life a daily struggle that must be
A "be strong person" is result oriented, actively hides emotions (even positive ones),
autonomous, independent and manages most of the situation by him/herself. He/she can resist to
pressure and handles stressful situations while taking high risks. He/she has great reluctance to
request any help and may disrespect those asking for it.
As a consequence, a "be strong person" does not demonstrate feeling, thinking or emotion,
believing that it is an admission of weakness. He/she is hard with him/herself and others, like to
dominate and may find him/herself in a relational and emotional isolation, especially by being
intolerant towards those appearing as weak.
2. Be perfect:
The origin of this driver is families’ or teachers’ observations like: "you can do better", "I
expected better from you", "don’t make any mistake" or "it’s good, but I would have liked you to do
more". Such comments create an individual obsessed with one objective: being perfect.
"Be perfect" people are drown in details, fear judgment, control everything, delegate almost
nothing, have mastery of all details but may lose sight of the original objective. They focus on
everything that is wrong and not on what is going well and may even demand the impossible. They
can be good administrators, good auditors but tend to see what is not going rather than what goes.
Such person can produce an excellent work but not always on time because he/she is lost in
details and has no ability to evaluate priorities. Furthermore, he/she raises the bar too high and
seeks the best solution. Regularly dissatisfied with himself and/or others, he/she can become rigid
and imposes his/her own rules.
3. Please others:
The "please others" driver characterizes a person who neglects his/her own needs to satisfy
others. His/her behaviors are driven by the following beliefs: "I should adopt myself to others", "the
others are more important than me, and I constantly need their esteem" and "say no? NEVER!"
This driver is originated from situations when we were told: "do not be selfish", "think more
about others", "you make me feel sorry" or "you are really not nice". These situations shape an
individual convinced that he/she should be kind, devoted and attentive to others in order to be
comfortable with them and deserve their esteem.
A "please others" person tries hard to satisfy others, could not dare to say "NO" for fear of
being rejected and is afraid to disappoint others. This person integrates well into a team yet does
not lead it. He/she can be attacked by others and apologizes (too) easily, however, he/she may be a
victim of its too great sensitivity and dedication because he/she finds great difficulty in
confrontation and can be forgotten behind the desires of others.
4. Hurry up:
This is the kind of a person who works in a hurry and puts a lot of pressure to do better and
well in less time. For him, only fast actions and decisions count.
This is driven by directives such as "decide quickly and immediately", "avoid others that will
ultimately slow you down", "go, go, you are too slow", "at that speed, you will never get there" or
"haven’t you finished yet?".
This driver is associated with the conviction that in a world of constant acceleration, one
must always go faster. To achieve something, you have to go fast because "taking time is a waste of
time". Time is so precious that it cannot be spoiled by endless discussions and reflections, hence,
you have to make decisions quickly, go straight to the point by eliminating everything that is
incidental, work quickly and know how to function in an emergency. A "hurry up" person is usually
bored when there is nothing to do and can put himself in pressure by taking more than he can
In addition, this person is reactive, even impatient, quickly finds solutions and simplifies
procedures to save time with the risk of scattering. Often autonomous because he/she leaves the
others behind, is irritated when others are hesitant and continues to weigh the pros and cons. Needs
to move, to move forward, to run, to project and to train the others. Always in a hurry, and
sometimes ends up in a burn-out situation.
5. Try hard:
The fifth and last driver is associated with persons that work without ever stopping. They
never relax and for them, the energy spent is more important than the success of the project itself.
They lose sight of the desired result and fear criticism.
This is rooted in the personality based on requests such as "when you do something, get
yourself totally involved", "you really have nothing left to do?", "do not achieve goals one by one" or
even "you have no merit, it was easy".
A "try hard" person gets enormously involved in what he does and can deploy a lot of energy
for a project. Sometimes the most important thing is not necessarily the result but the effort that
has been made. He does not like what is easy or obvious and believes success requires overcoming
Furthermore, he/she is active and highly applied, likes to exceed (and surpass him/herself),
knows how to recognize the efforts of others and is ready to help them go further. Nevertheless, he
may be particularly harsh towards those he considers lazy. He devalues their results (and his own
too) if he feels they have been obtained easily or without any particular effort.
It is imperative to understand and master the five drivers as this is a way to comprehend our
personalities. Drivers are useful tools in human resource management, helping managers deal
effectively with staff based on their prevailing driver (s). The ultimate goal is a better management
strategy allowing the achievement of the desired results.