“What do you do?” This is a common question that we ask each other at cocktail parties and other friendly gatherings. We have been answering that question for most of our adult life. “I’m a dentist.” “I sell Real Estate.” “I’m a high school English teacher.”
In a recent workshop I was facilitating, I brought forth the idea that what you do is not nearly as powerful or thought-provoking as why you do what you do. This is not a new concept – the concept of knowing your “why.” Perhaps no one made this more abundantly clear than Simon Sinek in his well-known TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” This morning when I went and reviewed that talk I noticed that it has now been viewed by more than 30 million people. I wonder how many of the viewers actually took the time to go and craft a heart-felt “Why I do what I do” document?
I suppose that one of the problems with knowing our “why” is that it is so unfamiliar to us. You see, likely no one has ever come up to you at that cocktail party and said, “Hello, my name is Suzy (or Bob or whomever). Can you tell me why you do what you do?” You’d likely find an excuse to move away from Suzy/Bob fairly quickly. Thus, we have a lot of familiarity with answering and thinking about our “what” and very little familiarity with answering or even thinking about our “why.”
Furthermore, our “what” can consume us. Though it’s perfectly understandable why this happens, too many of us get trapped day-in and day-out in our “what,” and thus our “why” becomes distant and unknown to us.
And yet, if you have ever encountered someone who was very clear on their why, you know just how powerful it is. When we become clear on our why our vocations and our lives resonate in a way that others can feel. We need more people in this world to know and live out their “why.” It is likely that you were given a great gift, something very unique to you. Sadly, you may never bring the fullness of that gift to the world if all you do is get to your “what.”
We here at Rewire have built a great tool around helping people unearth and discover (and in some cases re-discover) their “why.” If you want that tool and think going through the exercise would serve you and the people around you, then you can download it here.
I came across a video recently passionately gets at the centrality of “why.” I hope you watch it. You may or may not agree with what he says. That’s okay — I’m not asking for you to agree or disagree. And the subject isn’t really business; it’s teaching and education. But in 6 minutes and 40 seconds you will get a great image of what it means to live from your “why.” https://biggeekdad.com/2014/11/students-really-need-hear/
I hope this inspires you to go and get your “why.”
Get it back, learn it and learn from it. Then share it with the world.
We all need more people living from this space. You will make the world better.