I’ve been stuck lately. Not a bad stuck, but stuck nonetheless. I’ve been stuck on one simple yet incredibly impossible question. Why?
Why do I do what I do? What do I love about my work? What matters most? And how does my love and passion translate into the work I do? As Simon Sinek so aptly states, “People do not buy what you do – but why you do it.”
Mike Maddock of Forbes writes:
“Starting a career, a company or any kind of journey that is based firmly on your purpose is foundational to success and happiness. If you don’t know your company’s purpose or even your own, finding one is the worthiest of resolutions.”
Passion is contagious. Passion sells. Think about the stores you frequently shop at – or the coffee shop you’re a regular of – or the restaurant you eat at three times a week. Think about the leaders you respect and the people you admire. What’s the common thread? What rests at their foundation? It’s that their “why” is obvious. Their commitment to the craft – to customer service – to making great shit and doing wonderful things – that’s what matters and that’s what we, as consumers, fans, and followers, resonate with.
Lately I find myself sitting at home with the desire to write – with the desire to be productive – with the desire to do great and incredible things and to put my ideas into action. But then I pause, and I get stuck on the question of “why?”
I believe that discovering your “why” is the key to complete happiness. It’s the only path toward personal fulfillment , love, and finding the light at the end of the proverbial “passion” tunnel.
And I believe I’ve discovered my why. Why do I write? Why do I run a branding company? Because at my core, I’m passionate about helping others realize their own why – and then translate it into something real – something tangible. Maybe it’s helping to break down a personal barrier a reader of my blog is faced with. Maybe it’s giving assurance to a self-doubter that their idea doesn’t suck and that it can be successful. Maybe it’s designing and developing a website, giving someone the platform they need to more effectively tell their story.
Whatever it is, my why is about the why’s of others. It’s why (pun intended) the first question I ask a client is “Why does this matter? Why are you doing this? Why are you here?” – Because understanding and embracing your why is the first step – whether it be toward accomplishing a personal goal, building a business, or simply discovering true love.
Discovering you why involves taking a step back. It involves talking through things, candidly, with those you trust. It involves writing down ideas and scibbling down thoughts. It involves going for long runs to fight through your own doubts. It involves hard work and hustle. Yet, it requires time to pause.
Yesterday I read a blog post shared by the best Peach provider this side of the Mississippi. Leave it to a passionate seller of fine peaches to read my mind and share, so eloquently, how the “why” translates into meaningful, purposeful work.
“As with all transitions in life (Peach Season among them), there is a time when the newness of the season is awkward. Things are finding order slowly and balance is an ever so changing juggling act. As our feet find their footing more and more, clarity meets us and deep breathing nourishes the soul. I recently had one of these moments of finding my feet and breathing well amidst the juggling.
This pause was to honor work, and as we all work I wanted to share these beautiful thoughts and hopefully past on the encouragement I received.
Macrina Wiederkehr shares in the book, Seven Sacred Pauses that, “all work has the potential of becoming love made visible – a blessing.” There is so much drudgery, disdain and burden around the thought of work…and for good reason. We create obstacles that make grace in our work nearly impossible or we can get so caught up in individualism that we can’t see room for growth.
So the there is a need to pause. To be mindful of the creativity within us, to see the surrounding community as a support and also a mission to serve and to honor our own hands that build and restore. Our work is one that has potential to benefit the community. If we choose, as Emily Dickinson said, to “dwell in possibility”, work can take on a whole new form and when these truths are grasped. Wiederkehr wrote, “such truths change the hours to gold.”
How do you dwell in possibility? When’s the last time you asked yourself, “What am I doing that matters?” When did you last consider that your talents and interests – be them growing and selling delicious peaches or advocating for education reform or selling an a cool app – can have a significant impact on the world around you?
By discovering – then understanding – and finally embracing your “why”, your perception of work shifts dramatically. Work changes from simply something you do and becomes a part of who you are. And isn’t that what we really, truly want? Don’t we all strive to discover meaning? Don’t we all want to do work that matters? Of course.
So today, I encourage you to pause for “why”. Maybe you’re overwhelmed at work and feel like you can’t possibly keep up. Maybe you’ve been talking yourself out of making a career change. Maybe you keep wondering if that goal – whatever it is, will ever be possible. Maybe you just flat-out feel stuck.
Today and in the days, weeks, maybe even months ahead, pause and think about how you to dwell in possibility. Ask yourself, “why?”, then take all the time you need to answer – just make sure you DO find your answer.
I’m right there with you. We’re in this together. But once we figure it out, once we truly understand the “why”, nothing – absolutely nothing – will stand in our way – in your way – from doing incredible, amazing, fulfilling, passionate, exciting things.