Why do we get out of bed in the morning? Other than the obvious typical answers – to pay rent, to stock up on vitamin D, to allow bedsores to subside – I, and many others like me, seldom take the time to really think this question through. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think I had a very good answer to this question until this week and even now, I’d say I’m in early stages of evolution on my true motivations.
It all started with a meeting on Wednesday. I sat for coffee with a fascinating individual who was perpetually asking the question, “why?” We talked about career opportunities and when I spoke of the jobs I was interested, he repeated his question, “why?” After tripping over my words a few times, I eventually settled on the fact that I like to solve problems. Once again, his persistence remained with the simple question, “why?” At that point, amid early morning frustration and confusion, I contemplated Godwin-esquerebuttals to shut the man up: I was genetically wired that way, my sisters dressed me up as a girl when young, video games had raised a child demanding simple yet immediate satisfaction… ok, I didn’t really know.
So what makes you tick? Why do you do the things you do? Why do you enjoy your hobbies? Why do you go to work each day? Do you even have a good answer to these questions?
I didn’t. However, this meeting pointed me to someone who could help. It was the work of SimonSinek that would ask the right questions and get me thinking about what I was really doing (everyone loves a good TED talk). His work can be summarized quite simply as identifying 3 layers of our daily lives. ‘What’ is the actual actions and things that we do. My ‘what’ tends to involve things like using technology, writing, creating music and communicating. ‘How’ looks a level higher in terms of how we accomplish our goals. I use my ‘Whats’ to be a problem solver. However, the ‘Why’ is the question that few people (including myself) get to. In fact, as Sinek points out, ‘Why’ is where we should begin.
It took me a while, but after thinking through all of the things I’ve done over the years and major decisions I’ve made that have led me to where I am, I realized that I like making people happy. My ‘Why’ is the enrichment of other’s lives. While I have typical ways of accomplishing this goal, it really doesn’t matter ‘How’ or ‘What’ I do to get there.
Think about the things you do. Think about what makes you happy. Think about your job. Think about your hobbies. Think about the relationships you maintain. Behind each and every one of these things, there is a motivation. What’s your why?