Recently, while hosting a workshop, I asked a group of leaders how many had ever undertaken the exercise of discovering their “why” (i.e. the deeper purpose for their being in business) and - not surprisingly - many had raised their hands. I then proceeded to ask how many thought they could benefit from reviewing this process and just about the same number of hands rose.
What this said to me is that we might be misunderstanding how “knowing my why” is supposed to work: we’re treating it like a one-time task and once we’ve discovered what that “why” is, we mentally check it off as “done.” But I can say from my own experience, as well as the experiences of Rewire clients all over the world, that “knowing your why” isn’t a one-time practice. Even if you are someone who has endeavored to uncover your greater purpose, reviewing and revisiting this process regularly can make a huge difference in your level of motivation, your business results, and, ultimately, how you live life.
And I'm far from alone in advocating this sort of ongoing attention to your "why." One of my favorite presentations of this topic is a TED talk by Simon Sinek. With well over 36 million views of that talk alone, it is clear that this has struck a chord with people.
And yet, even with the broad acceptance of this idea, it seems like a large portion of our thoughts, hours and actions go to our “what” and not our “why.” And it makes sense that we would, too. It’s not like we go to a party, introduce ourselves to a stranger, and then ask this person “Hey, why do you do what you do? What’s your purpose for your actions?” (Although, for those of you struggling with too many social obligations and not enough time, this would be a great script to insure that you’re not invited to parties in the future. Just start introducing yourself by asking people what their purpose is, and you’ll find your social calendar clearing up in no time!) So, instead we ask “What do you do for a living?” This is just one example of how we habitually answer the “what” question over and over.