Sunday, 27 May 2012

What Is Your Why?

We have all asked it under our breath, usually paired with a slow shake of the head and an exasperated sigh, "Why did I do that?"  You may have even had one of those; drop to your knees in the rain, look towards the stormy sky as the rain falls relentlessly onto your face and scream "WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?" while the camera pans out; moments.

In an earlier blog, we looked at your "Who" and your "What"  Now it is time to look at your "Why".

All to often, we reserve the question of why for when we regret a decision or something negative happens to us. In those situations it is good to ask why, not to throw a pity party but to actually explore why you took an action or why something happened to you. What I would like to suggest to you today, though, is to ask why all the time. The use of this question can lead you down paths of discovery you can't even imagine.

Think about the typical 4 year old. The word "why" is probably one of the most used in their vocabulary. I have had these kinds of conversations with both of my kids and several others.

"Daddy" (That part is usually only from my kids, not other peoples) "Why do we have to go to the grocery store every week?"
"Because we have to buy food."
"Well, we need to eat."
"Because our bodies need food so that we can walk and talk and think and do things?"
"...... you know, I don't really know exactly."
"Because I didn't go to University and study that kind of thing."
"Because I wanted to be a rock star ok?! Back off, you sound like my dad!"
"......... Why?"

"Why" is the one-word key to discovery. When you turn it on yourself, you can discover things that can change your life. The trick is to not just use it when things go your way. Ask it of yourself in every situation and really explore your answer.

Why did you nail that presentation?
Why did you get the job?
Why did you choose to procrastinate?
Why did you not make that sales call?
Why did you pour so much energy into your last project?

Behind every action you take, be it positive or negative, there is a motivation ... a why. Be a 4 year old and explore those motivations. Have a conversation like this with yourself;

"Why did I nail that presentation?"
"Because I felt completely confident going into it."
"Because I was fully prepared."
"Because I knew my subject and my audience inside-out and backwards."
"Because I took the time to research it all very well."
"Because I knew that this presentation was key to the success of my business."
"Because I knew that landing a contract with these people would open many doors."

We could continue but you get the point. Just from asking why in this sequence we discovered that a great presentation comes from confidence, which comes from preparation, which comes from a desire to succeed.

Everyone's "why" is different and certain situations will have different "whys" for you. Take the time to explore why you make choices the way you do. Channel your inner 4 year old and drill through the "whys" until you can't drill any more. Then look back at all of the answers. You will find heaps of information that will help you to understand why you do what you do and what you might want to adjust.

Because it works.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Who is Your What and What is Your Who? ... What?

Who is your what and what is your who?  It almost sounds like I have ripped off Dr. Seuss, but I haven't. Trust me, I have no desire to incur the wrath of the Cat in the Hat.

Where, you ask, did this nonsensical question come from? From a trend I have seen in many conversations I have been having lately.  Due to a presentation I delivered recently entitled, "Finding Your Passion", many of the audience members have been in touch with me wanting to dig deeper into that topic as it relates to their own life. Keep in mind, this trend is not unique to the audience in that presentation, it is very prevalent everywhere and in almost everyone (including myself). 

It is this ... we tend to mix our "who" and our "what". It's like an Abbott and Costello skit isn't it?
Who is your what?
No, no ... who is your who.
What is my who?

We tend to define ourselves by the roles we have in life. These are our "whats". You may be a mother, father, sibling, grandparent, son, daughter, friend, employee, boss, co-worker, consumer, producer, wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, volunteer, helper, dependent, or any combination of millions of roles not listed here. 

Your "what" is the culmination of all of your roles. It is defined by what you do and what responsibilities you have to others.  We all have "whats" and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is our "whats" that make us valuable members of society, able to contribute to those around us. 

The problems come when we start letting our "whats" take over and eventually drown out our "who". 

What is your "who"? Your "who" is you apart from your "whats". By that I mean this ... (wow, Dr. Seuss must have had lots of fun, writing sentences like this is making me smile) ... If you can put your roles out of your mind and really look inside at the person you are, you will find your "who". 

Doing it isn't very easy for most. That is because we are so used to defining ourselves based on our roles. If you had no responsibilities to anyone, even for just a day, what would you want life to be like? Who would be there?
What would you be doing?
How would you feel?
Where would you go? 

Think as freely as you can. This is where you discover your "who". Don't judge your vision, just soak it in. This is where you will find your passion. This is where you will learn what you really want from your life. Spend some time in this would of your "who". Get to know it very very well. Then bring it with you when you step back into your "whats". Adjust your roles according to the real you that you have found. 

That is where happiness begins.

Get in touch with your true "who" and adjust your "whats" to reflect it. We will talk about your "whys" and "hows" in another article.