If you have participated in any self-reflection, professional mentoring or coaching, you have heard that you need to know your purpose or your ‘Why’ and I will tell you that knowing your ‘Why’ is vitally important to feeling happiness and living with joy. Simon Sinek’s TEDTalk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, is all about understanding your ‘Why’. This is powerful and I encourage everyone to spend time learning about your ‘Why’.

What drives you and gives you purpose? This can be scary and frustrating, yet so rewarding. There are many things to consider. Simon Sinek says, “there are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” Believe it or not, you can inspire or manipulate yourself in your daily life.  However, it’s really hard to be manipulated by yourself or others if you know your ‘Why’. Your ‘Why’ does not change and it stays with you through every role, job, and journey you take in life. You do not need to be an innovator or cure cancer to live a purposeful life, and you do not have to have one role, job, or journey to fulfill your purpose. Your ‘Why’ brings any role, job, or journey to life. Yes, there are people we know like Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Maya Angelo who from our perspective had one role, job, or journey in life. This is not true; even for them. All the things that led them to become well-known are a sum of what they did, not their ‘Why’. They struggled and evolved, but their ‘Why’ did not change. Oprah says, “there are no mistakes…[a] failure is just that thing, trying to move you in another direction.”

I will disagree with Oprah here and say you will make mistakes in life. Knowing your ‘Why’ will allow you the freedom to make those mistakes and grow. You must begin somewhere and make mistakes and misstep. Many have said this but I give credit to President Rutherford B. Hayes for saying this: “The expert at anything was once a beginner.” This reminds me of something that happened in one of my daughter’s softball games many years ago. On one particular day, the team made a play that got the player of the other team out and it was really an awful looking play to those of us in the stands. However, we started cheering and suddenly a couple of us stated, “It doesn’t have to be pretty to be effective.” The girls learned something that day. No, it wasn’t that softball was their ‘Why’, but they learned they could accomplish something and be successful and it did not have to look perfect to the spectators. To the girls it felt good and right and they did not care how it looked. They are all grown now, but I know the sport developed an agility and toughness in each of those girls that will one day lead them to their ‘Why’ regardless of how great they were at softball.

You have to try things out and learn what your strengths and weaknesses are to find out what your ‘Why’ is.  Margie Warrell’s article, Do You Know Your “Why?” 4 Questions to Find Your Purpose, states “your life’s work sits in the intersection of your talents, skills/expertise, passions, and deepest values.” This means you need to gain some experience and continue to listen to yourself as you hone your ability to hear yourself in all of life’s noise happening around you.

What is the first thing you see or visualize when you consider your purpose? How will you start living your life with intention and passion with ‘Why’ at the center of everything? You will actually feel something shift in you as you consider what your ‘Why’ is in life. I cannot be still to save my life, but I have spent time in complete stillness, and that is where I learned my ‘Why’. I know without a doubt that my ‘Why’ is to help those who help others. That does not mean I have to work in a particular role or for a certain organization; it means that every day I help someone who is helping others. That looks very different every day. Something that helps me is it does not have to look pretty to be effective and that crosses my mind often when I’m helping someone or being helped by someone. Let that help you as you step into uncharted territory of finding your ‘Why’ or honing your skills that will lead to your ‘Why’.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? If you cannot answer that right now, then it’s time to get out into the world and try some things out. Don’t forget the stillness that is needed to hear yourself and learn what you ‘Why’ is.