What’s Your Why? And How Are You Living It?

This morning at my American Business Women Association (ABWA), Carrie Willett, president of WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, spoke on “3 R’s to Leading Other to Reach Their Full Potential.”

As part of her talk, she referenced Simon Sinek and his book Start with Why. I had heard of Sinek before and had watched his TedX Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” It’s worth watching, especially if you lead anything—a business, a ministry, a sports team.

A key point is the need to “know your why.” He says, “What you do proves what you believe.” Knowing our why helps us connect with the people who believe what we believe. But I think knowing our why also helps us to do what we were created for. We find that passion, that why, and we move forward, and we stick with it because it matters to us.

Do you know your why?

If you’re only living your what, it’s just a job. When the going gets tough, we bail. Or if we can’t afford to bail, we live in resentment. It’s a weight around our neck, around our soul.

But when we know our why, when we can clearly articulate why we do what we do, we have the strength to keep going when the hurdles arrive.

My husband is a pastor. Trust me, it’s not an easy job. And just for the record, he doesn’t just work an hour or so on Sunday! It’s a people-heavy job, a spiritually heavy job. But even when things have gotten disappointing or even ugly, he has rarely succumbed to discouragement or stress. And it’s totally because he knows his why. He reminds himself of it often.

I know my why. I want people to know who God created them to be and to live out of that (and in relationship with him) so they live joyfully and purposefully. In a sense, I want you to know your why. When I focus on my why, speaking and writing to help people discover their uniqueness, my life is joyful and I love getting up in the morning (as long as it’s not before 7). My two days a week working at the Ten Thousand Villages store fits that why too, because through selling fair trade products I am helping each artisan live out of their unique giftedness, their why.

When I get caught up in worrying about the money, or Facebook likes, or the number of blog comments, I lose sight of my why. And life spirals down—down to fear, down to drudgery, down to depression. It becomes either frantic, as I cram more in to try to achieve, or depressing, as I give up for a while.

The solution is to remember my why. To live it passionately.

What’s your why?

Are you living it out today?

P.S. Have some fun the next time you go to a networking event. Instead of asking someone, “What do you do,” look them in the eye and ask, “So what’s your why that leads you to do what you do?”

8 thoughts on “What’s Your Why? And How Are You Living It?”

  1. Excellent Carol! Love this. I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek. Love your application and examples and your suggestion! I’ll try it.

  2. Good to read this after hearing you at LCWG recently. Unfortunately, I couldn’t arrive as early as usual, so not only missed Jeanette W’s opening, but also your introduction to “Writing your Passions” presentation. Found the handout on my chair and took notes as quickly as I could.
    Appreciated your honest and experience based approach to your presentation. By request, I published three years of Day by Day Bible comments for a denomination based in London. However, I truly prefer to write poetry and personal essay. As a Christian writer, I think I know my ‘whys.’ But I’m wondering if you possibly have notes from your talk to share which would help me find my natural mkts. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I am sorry you missed the opening. I wish I could give you notes, but the outline is really all I have written down. Congratulations on having the opportunity to write for the Day by Day Bible. But I understand your desire to write what you love. I would suggest you use Writers Market to find places you can submit poetry and personal essay. And until you get pieces accepted there, think about ways you can share those in other places, like online, maybe even through your own blog or through social media. Brainstorm with others places that you can share your work. Hope those help! Blessings on your journey.


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