What do great leaders, inventors and visionaries have in common? They all have a firm grip on their WHY. Let me explain this further with an example.
Jim Carrey had a WHY. He grew up in a middle class home until his early adolescence when his family lost their financial security and had to sell their house and live in a camper. This experience taught Carey that money was a fickle commodity and so to strive for it alone was futile. This led him to focus his ambitions around his passions, entertainment and comedy. Making people laugh was his WHY.
During his first stand-up routine at Yuk-Yuk's club in Toronto he was booed off stage. He went on to star in a failed sit-com called the Duck Factory and was rejected when auditioning for Saturday Night Live. What kept Carey going when the circumstances around him told him to quit? It was his WHY.
Knowing your WHY is the core, the key, the most important question to ask yourself when pursuing a career, a relationship or any ambition. It will become your driving force, your source of strength, and your inspiration when the going gets tough.
John C. Maxwell tells a story of a man who came across three bricklayers busy at work. The man asked the first bricklayer what he was doing. “I’m laying bricks,” the worker replied. He then asked the second bricklayer the same question. “I’m putting up a wall,” he said. The passerby then asked the question one more time, this time to the third bricklayer. The response: “I’m building a cathedral.”
All three men were doing the same task of laying bricks, however each man thought about his task differently. No matter what job you are in there are going to be boring days and unpleasant tasks. The key to overcoming these challenges is to have the bigger picture in mind, the WHY.
So I want to ask you. Why do you do what you do? Why do you have your job? Why are you in your current relationship? Why do you exercise? Knowing the answer to these questions will be what gets you through those days where you don’t feel like going to the gym, when you have to deal with a difficult work colleague, when you look at your bank account and wish it had more zeros behind the current balance.
Simon Sinek, a successful marketing consultant and author of ‘Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’ created the below diagram known as the Golden Circle.
He uses this diagram to explain that most people and organisations start from the outer ring and work inwards. He believes that success comes from starting in the centre, knowing your why and working out from that. Everyone knows what they do, most people know how they do it, but very few know WHY. In his book he explains this is the key to longevity and sustained passion and success in any field. To know your why is to know what will keep you going in the tough times. When doubt creeps in, when friends fall by the wayside, when you get made redundant. Having your why is your anchor that will keep you grounded.
So what is your WHY? Please email and tell me. I would love to hear from you!