WHY is More Important Than How or What

October 21, 2011

Ever wonder why some people seem to be able to get more done than you?  Or how about the dedication that some people have to their family, business, a charity, cause, or whatever.  It always intrigues me to see someone so passionate about something that they are not only willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals, but they are also getting stuff done at a speed that is just mind-boggling.

The secret to their success can be summed up in this little word:  WHY

Why they are doing whatever “it” is, is what drives them.

Having a PURPOSE makes you purposeful with every move you make.

Understanding what’s on the line, drives you to care about the end result more than the steps that will get you there.

If we take a step back and examine the way most people work and think, you will see a distinct difference.

The average person thinks….  How do I accomplish this? And then they ask the question, What do I do now or next?  But while those questions are good to ask, they often take center stage and overshadow the why.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the [How] and the [What] and actually forget about [Why] altogether.

Ever hear the phrase, “life is a journey not a destination”? or “you have to take time to enjoy the ride”?  While that’s great advice to enjoy the journey, we often get distracted from our destination by all the speed bumps and challenges along the way.

Ever see the movie “Vacation”?  Easily one of my favorite movies of all time.  Clark Griswold was definitely focused on the destination.  Didn’t matter what happened along the way, they were going to Wally World and they were going to have fun whether they liked it or not.  I admire the passion, but it’s not quite the example we are looking for here.  But I bet many of us relate.

The other example I think of is one of my favorite athletes when I was growing up and that’s Michael Jordan.  Most people think they know his story about being cut from the basketball team in high school.  But what most people don’t know about that is why he got cut.  You see, he had the talent to be on the team.  In fact, he had more talent than everyone on the team put together.  The problem was that he didn’t understand WHY he should be on the team.  His coach saw something in him that he hadn’t seen before and knew it was special.  So he made Michael commit to practicing every day with him for a year with no guarantee of getting on the team.  While I don’t have time to explain the whole story, let’s just say he found out WHY during all those practices.  His WHY was a long-term vision of being the greatest player to ever play the game and winning an NBA championship along the way.  Many would agree he is the greatest player in NBA history and he won 6 titles.

So how does this all relate?  Many people go through life like Clark Griswold barreling their way toward something.  The secret to real success is knowing WHY.  You see, while it’s a great movie (and I wouldn’t change a thing…), if you dig deeper you’ll see that Clark really didn’t have any reason why other than getting to the park and having some fun.  What if his [WHY] or [Purpose] for the trip was to create a bond with his family, make heartfelt memories, and make the trip their best summer vacation ever!  You get a different outcome when your WHY is right.  You also enjoy the journey!

To put a little more perspective on this, imagine being so passionate about your WHY that you enjoy the otherwise meaningless daily tasks.  Or better yet, you relish the opportunity to take on each challenge along the way.  Do you think you would do a better job if you enjoyed the challenges?  Do you think it’s easier to do something when you know the impact it will make to the long-term WHY?  You bet it does.

Some questions you can ask yourself to be more effective:

  • Always ask, WHY am I doing this?
  • What’s the purpose of this?
  • What part does this play in my long-term vision, my WHY, life goals, etc?
  • How can I enjoy even the most trivial tasks or challenges?

This is a big can of worms for most people.  So my last bit of advice is don’t got it alone.  Find a coach, mentor, or friend that can help you get perspective.  If need help discovering your WHY, reach out to me at michael@michaellejeune.com.  I’m happy to give you some specific advice for your situation.

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