In September 2009, Simon Sinek did his first Ted Talk presenting the concept of “Why”. It rose to become the third most watched on TED.com, with over 37 million views and subtitled in 46 languages. His premise? ‘Everyone has a WHY. Your WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you. Knowing your WHY gives you a filter to make choices, at work and at home, that will help you find greater fulfillment in all that you do.’ Cool!
Entrepreneur Magazine says, “Discovering Your ‘Why’ Is the No. 1 Business Move.”
When it comes to your business or career, your “why” – why you do what you do – helps you stay committed to your dream and motivated in your daily life. Plus, unless you know your why, it’s almost impossible to get others on board with your vision.
So, Mr. Sinek’s big idea took off like wildfire. It’s everywhere! Find your why. Businesses changed their paradigm. Mr. Sinek said people don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you sell it. Now go to any website, any catalog, the majority of print ads and you see the words: “We believe…”
I received an IKEA catalog in the mail. Flipping through, I saw all the slick, shiny, simple designs, but what was interesting is throughout the catalog was interspersed what IKEA believes. I was introduced to their designers, shippers, managers, color specialists etc. – each one sharing what they believed and WHY they worked for IKEA. WHY they believed in IKEA’s vision – it was mesmerizing. I read the whole catalog and still have it.
So ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What gets me up in the morning?”
In researching, as with anything on the internet these days, I found the anti-why. The idea that, if you search for purpose you will be profoundly disappointed. You may develop your talent, your skill, your passion, but no one is willing to pay for it. Or once developed your talent is no longer needed, if it ever was.’ Nice. (insert sarcasm here)
There are articles and blogs strongly suggesting that you don’t look for a purpose; stating that people rarely find work or even volunteerism, that they love. It’s just a big circle of disappointment.
Read the following paragraph published by The New Republic Magazine in May 2015:
“We would be better off if we liberated work from the moral weight of “purpose.” There is dignity in the struggle just to get the objective (NEED, PAID) and subjective (GOOD, LOVE) elements of our work closer to each other. If we’re lucky, then we will be exploited for what we are good at, and we will meet someone else’s need through our own exhaustion. There is cause for celebration in that. Few of us will ever find our meritocratic purpose, much less “OWN it!” That shouldn’t mean we’re failures. Often, just standing in the PAID circle is a triumph.”
Wow, just wow. No wonder 80% of the American workforce is dissatisfied with their jobs and disengaged.
So, obviously, I couldn’t disagree more. If your entire goal is to show up, endure the day, get paid – what’s the point? We all know we spend more time at work, with our co-workers than we do at home with our families. If I am merely “enduring” then I’m out – I’m not getting out of bed.
What if we could experience the power of purpose? And this purpose tapped into our reserves of energy, determination, and courage. What if our why was clear. Our goal was compelling. Our focus was laser-like. A clear sense of purpose enables us to focus our efforts on what matters most, compelling us to take risks and push forward regardless of obstacles or push-backs.
Humans crave more from life than just survival. We desire, we need, we want purpose. Without it, we can quickly fall into disillusionment, distraction, and inner despair. Employee engagement statistics show a crisis of purpose and meaning at an unprecedented level.
I’ve changed careers about every 10 years. Not subtly but significantly. Started as a Municipal Civil Engineer…to owning a bookstore and import business…to working at a large Mega-Church…to being a freelance writer. It wasn’t until I went to BOLD: Advanced Leadership, and actually FORGE: Team Execution as well, that I identified and honed in my personal why. I always assumed I sort of knew it in the back of my mind. But that is hugely different than identifying it and locking it in. Then, and only then, did I figure out how to achieve the goals that excite me and create a life I enjoy living, versus merely surviving!
From my perspective, it’s simple: Only when we know our ‘why’ will we find the courage to take the risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated, and move our life to an entirely new, more challenging, and more rewarding level.
Did you know the word inspire comes from the Latin, meaning “to breathe life into?”
What breathes life into your day? Into your work? Into your family time? If you, sort of know in the back of your mind – it’s time to bring it forward. To ignite it. It’s about connecting with what you’re passionate about. Knowing that when you focus your attention on endeavors that put a fire in your belly, you grow your impact and influence in ways that nothing else can.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” — Nelson Mandela