The word ‘why’ is often used interchangeably when referencing the context of purpose. The common clichés around the purpose phenomenon in today’s world are ‘Find Your Purpose’ or ‘Find Your Why.’ The frequency of these remarks is something that I argue should be used with caution. The motives of someone is crucial to one's underlining actions but shouldn’t ever be forced upon someone.
The individualistic lifestyle of American culture often promotes career success, wealth, power, stability, and freedom amongst others. Despite this, none of these characteristics has helped me find my personal why.
One pivotal moment in my life that has changed my perspective on purpose was when I was asked the question in my first job of, “What is your why? Why are you coming to work every day?” That day I had no answer, or at least my narrow-minded perspective thought I had didn’t.
The caution behind the why statement stems from the idea that people often overthink and make circumstances more complicated than they are. Your reality is different than mine, which is also different than the person sitting to the left or right of you. The more often we ask the why questions, may help continuous reflection and clarity for some, but it may also drive people to derail from the positive steps they are making each day.
Seek to understand the ‘how’ of someone, I believe it may even tell you more about a person’s why than asking simply about their purpose. ‘How are you?’ ‘How was your breakfast?’ ‘How was your trip?’ ‘How was XYZ?’ These questions will tell you more than you think about a person’s mindset, reasoning and decision making. The conversation doesn’t always have to be an investigation, let others tell you how they are feeling and you will learn immensely about them and their perspective on life.
My why is not complicated. It’s simple and stems from the people that I have been surrounded by in my life and what I’ve found I enjoy. Control my attitude and effort, invest in the community that I am in and smile. I like tailgating football games on Saturdays. I like playing cards at the table. I like the rush I get from water skiing. I like travelling and exploring new cultures. I like getting to know people different than me. I’ve come to learn that I like a lot of things and my ‘why’ is simply to work hard to create 70 more years of those great things with the people I love.