One of the things I get to do is talk to young people about their goals. I ask what they want to do. They say things like “work with children”, “work in human resources”, “help people who have mental illnesses” or “conduct research to learn more about how the brain works”.
However, very few of them can tell me "why" they want to do these things. Of course, some will express the belief this work will help them make money. Others will say they like helping people. Still others will say their mom or dad told them it’s the best thing to do to make money. But none of them have ever told me that what they want to do is connected to their purpose.
In fact, I have yet to meet a student who can tell me their purpose. They say, “I haven’t found it yet”. Or, “I think I’m too young to know”. So, I go on a treasure hunt with them searching for "why" this work they want to do is important enough to them to go for it.
On these treasure hunts, we’re looking for their “why”. I mean your deep, down sense of how this work you want to do is connected to your reason for being, living and doing everyday. Because in the end, that’s the reason we will keep going and growing in the work we choose to do.
I used to love to watch professional basketball. My favorite players were often very talented at scoring and making magical plays. But what drew me to them was their love for the game. Some players gave me the feeling that they would do this for free. I had a friend who used to shovel snow off the court so that he could play basketball. He loved the game and how it made him feel so much that he would shovel snow in order to play. That's real love.
Loving what we do comes from a deep place within us. It’s connected to our “why”, our life purpose. Simon Sinek does a fabulous TED Talk on the power of “why”. He says customers are inspired to buy from people who connect their product to “why”.
Sinek reminds us that Apple has astronomical sales because believe in innovation and standing out from the crowd. He says people joined Martin Luther King in civil rights marches because of what they believed about America as land of the brave and free.
People buy a product or take a class or select a service because they’re inspired by your beliefs, the good you seek to do. Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
His book encourages us to, Start With Why. (Click here to get a copy). When our beliefs match our clients feeling for what’s right or good or meaningful, they will very likely engage with us.
Here’s the truth. Only you can be you. Only you know deep down inside why your product or service is life-changing, good.
That magic in your product or service comes from your truth. Your purpose, your why, your beliefs about how the work you do will change lives or make the world better are all unique to you.
If you’re not sure about your “why”, go on a treasure hunt. Find your shining purpose and go make some magic in the world. Do your work like no one else can. You are the only one for the job.
© Sandra Y. Lewis