What’s Your Why?
In recent years, I’ve heard the expression “What’s Your Why” quite a bit. In fact, I’ve heard it (and variations thereof) so much that it became almost cliché – you know, the expressions you hear all the time that tend to have little impact on you, as they’re overused.
Recently, as I’ve been working on mapping out my life and what I’d like to accomplish, a process I like to go through on a regular basis, I found that question ringing in my ears: What’s Your Why? Why is it that you want to put so much effort into these particular tasks and activities and you don’t want to spend even one second on these others?
So, I guess you could say that I finally allowed the “What’s Your Why” question to penetrate my consciousness, rather than simply dismissing it as an overused phrase.
As I thought about this question in the context of the choices I’ve made in my life, I realized that pretty much all of them are rooted in experiences I had and observations I made in my childhood. I found that kind of ironic, given that quite a few years have passed since those occurrences! Furthermore, what did I really know as a child? Not much. So maybe it’s a bit scary to think that much of what I do in my life now is based on my experiences and observations of my childhood.
Specifically, over time, I have focused my life and the activities of my life in a few areas. First, family is very important to me. I grew up spending every summer with my family at a lake about an hour from our home. We fished, we played sports, we cooked out, and we enjoyed all the activities one would expect from summertime camping activities. All those experiences and memories taught me how rewarding it could be to spend a lot of time with your family, particularly in the context of recreation and relaxation. Whether I acknowledged it or not, I think I always knew I’d get married relatively young and have a large family. That has proved correct and it has been the most rewarding aspect of my life, on all levels.
Second, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. From a young age, it became clear that I was going to start many businesses and was going to find it a lot easier and more comfortable to make a living that way, than I would working for someone else. I chalk this one up to watching my older brother make money by buying low and selling high at yard sales and flea markets. He was a master at “turning a buck” and I was fascinated by how a person could essentially make money out of superior knowledge and negotiating skills. Perhaps more importantly, the independence of doing so without having to turn the money over to a boss was very appealing. That has stuck with me my whole life.
Third, I’ve been a coach now for over a decade, both in business and in sports (mainly soccer). I love to coach and truth be told, I’d do it and have done it many times, for free – don’t tell my coaching clients! I love to help people and to watch them achieve their dreams and goals. I think this comes from all the time I spent with my Mom as a little kid. I used to follow her around as she got everything done in our household. She was the dream coach in a sense, as she’d always tell me that I could do anything I wanted in my life, but at the same time, she’d always challenge me. I remember that one of the games she’d always play with me, or better said, I guess, songs she used to sing to me was “Anything you can do, I can do better”. She didn’t do it in a mean way at all. Her tone was very supportive, challenging and playful. It was her way of teaching me to strive to do my best and always believe that I could compete with anyone. My Dad and brother, on the other hand, created a very competitive environment. Everything was a competition, which was very stimulating and I think helped me quite a bit in various achievements, but it was something I had to temper as an adult, so that competing could also be enjoyable. The tension between these two approaches is something I enjoy bringing to my coaching situations and exploring with my clients and teams. There’s a balance; it’s not always easy to find it, but it’s there.
Life is, of course, more complex than three things, but the greatest part of my life does boil down to these three: Family, Entrepreneurship, and Coaching. Even with these three in place, answering the question “What’s Your Why” is not always easy. If you are having trouble figuring it out and using it to direct where you may want to invest your time, for both business and pleasure, I encourage you to go back to your childhood experiences to look for answers. If childhood was not a pleasant place for you, don’t be discouraged. Use what you can learn from your childhood experiences to help others overcome the challenges that may be similar to those you’ve faced. It will be cathartic for you, and in the process, you will likely find a positive outlet to contribute and grow in your own life.
What’s Your Why? I challenge you to think it through, then use the answers you find to optimize the way you spend the rest of your life. If you’re not already there, now’s the time to take charge of your life and direct it in such a way that your “Why” is well aligned with the activities in your life. I can also tell you from experience and observation that once you achieve this alignment, your results and happiness are likely to go through the roof.
I look forward to your thoughts. Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post at www.companyfounder.com.
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