My fundamental drive has been “curiosity”. The urge to explore ideas, particularly in the environmental field. But as a teacher, I am continually aware that my motivations are not normal. At least with my students, the urge to explore is tight. By that I mean, often, if knowledge hs no immediate use, the knowledge is of no use.
All students want good grades and few have the urge and skills to explore ideas dispassionately; and to do well.
The paper below explores the importance of, among other personal qualities, curiosity is essential to academic success. Ant to long term personal and life success too.