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What makes us tick; the 10 desires that drive us

Last night APG members and friends got together over a few drinks at The Burdekin to hear the wisdom of Hugh Mackay, Author, Psychologist, Social Researcher, Columnist and all round man of many ideas.

Hugh has recently added a new release to his collection of bestselling novels and social research books. What Makes us Tick? The ten desires that drive us is best described as ‘a book that explains us to ourselves’. For marketers, it’s more than that though, it’s about the people we communicate to; our consumers and people just like us.

So what are the ten desires? As one keen observer pointed out, are they also our anxieties? It’s that whole yin yang thing – two complementary forces at play in our minds. Which is why a book to explain them seems like such a good idea.



The desire to be taken seriously – this is the big one. To be taken seriously in life, in love, at work. Not to be serious, just to be seen as having a valid position, worthy of consideration. Hell, even if people oppose your position, that’s validation. ‘Persecution reinforces ethnic identity.’

The desire for ‘my place’ – more than just a physical place but a sense of belonging, having a connection to a tribe. At its extreme, territorialism.

The desire for something to believe in – with only 15% of Australians attending Church, you might question our desire for belief but this one includes a broad and colourful spectrum. Take astrology, conspiracy theories, superstition, eastern mythology, western medicine, placebo effects…the list goes on.

The desire to connect – with others and with ourselves. The burst of social connectedness in the online world illustrates our need (sometimes desperate) to connect.

The desire to be useful – redundancy is not a word you want to hear. We tell our graduates ‘make yourselves indispensible’ – it’s about being useful to someone, somehow and reinforcing this. Becoming useless or being perceived to lack utility destroys connection, thwarts our self belief, damages our sense of belonging and renders us invalid. Pretty nasty stuff, no wonder it’s in our top ten desires.

The desire to belong – connected to our identity. Sometimes we want to belong, sometimes we don’t…or do we just want to belong to the non-belongers?

The desire for more – inescapable in our consumer driven society. More messages, more growth, more choices, more money, more life.

The desire for control – control freak or not, we all want it at some point. Whether you seek it passively or aggressively, control gives us purpose and power. A loss of control often manifests itself in a fear…of flying, heights, enclosed spaces…public speaking….

The desire for something to happen – life is pinpointed by things that happen, without them, life just well…goes on…Without a little bit of drama to relay, small talk becomes well…a little bit boring. Hugh gives a an example that if we’re honest, we’ve all used at some point “We like to make it sound as if something worth recounting has happened to us – even if something almost happened …’A woman in our office would have been on that plane that crashed if she’d gone on Thursday instead of Tuesday.’

The desire for love. ‘nuff said.

Hugh will be presenting again in Melbourne in May, more details to come.
In the meantime, get reading –

What do you think? Agree with Hugh’s top ten? Any more you’d add to your list?

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  • Reeves

    what about a desire to make a difference – or is this something we only pay lip service to?