WHAT you do and HOW you do it are critical as well, but if you start with WHY you’ll always find a way to get the others done.
Admit it, dude. You think about money. A lot. Don’t worry, I’m not judging you or anything (heck I’m guilty of it myself) but one thing I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur is that the way you think about money will ultimately determine how much you haul in. I used to be so concerned with how big my paycheck was going to be that I would just put in as many hours as possible to sweeten payday, and I’m not talking about the candy bar. I just traded more time for money in the hopes that I would make more than my co-workers. Is that a little competitive? You bet… but that’s where my mind was when it came to money.
Then one day I stumbled across a TED talk given by a guy named Simon Sinek who started explaining how WHAT I did and HOW I did it weren’t as important as I thought. It was hard for me to digest because all I knew in my life was WHAT I did and HOW to it. I didn’t understand why anything else would matter. My job called for me to do what they said to do, so I simply learned WHAT it was and then HOW to do it…and the more I did WHAT I was asked to do, the more money I made, plain and simple. Right?
Technically that’s right, but it isn’t a very fulfilling way to make more money… and if you have a wife or GF she probably notices if you hate your job but do it anyway. As I listened to the rest of this talk by Sinek, I couldn’t help but notice that he kept on talking about how important the reason WHY you do what you do is. He spoke as if this “WHY” was everything, and that for the greatest most inspiring companies in the world, like Apple or Tesla, the WHAT and HOW were merely are merely how the WHY is achieved.
This blew my mind. I watched the TED talk over and over and over again so that I wasn’t misunderstanding what Simon Sinek was saying. It hit me like a ton of bricks with the word “WHY” written on them with white spray paint. I could no longer look at money the same way anymore because I wasn’t fulfilled by WHAT I did or HOW I did it. I needed a change. Thus began my journey into entrepreneurship.
Since becoming an entrepreneur, I have followed Sinek’s advice and focused on the reason why I want to make money. I also realized that each and every person’s reason why is different, customized, and beautiful. Since starting with WHY rather than WHAT or HOW I have been able to thrive in business and enjoy every single step along the way. Of course, you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to apply this principle of focusing on WHY. The problem is that fellas aren’t wired to think of our jobs in this way. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy your job, it’s probably because you feel good or are inspired by what you do. That’s wonderful! Congratulations, man, you’ve figured out what most of us haven’t yet.
How do you start focusing on WHY? You begin by defining what you want your legacy to be. What gives you joy? What is your passion? If you didn’t have to punch a clock every day what would you spend your time doing? Chances are one of those things you just thought of is your reason WHY. Imagine for a moment what your life would be like if you got paid to do what you loved? If you were head over heels about video games, imagine being offered money to play video games and write reviews on them.
You would probably figure out the HOW and WHAT pretty quickly, huh? Maybe your passion, or your WHY, is to build churches or schools for children and families in a 3rd world country. If you wanted to do that badly enough, you would figure out WHAT to do and HOW to do it to get the funding or money required to get those churches or schools built.
There is so much power in WHY you do things. WHAT you do and HOW you do it are critical as well, but if you start with WHY, you’ll always find a way to get the others done.
Photo: Flickr/ Daniel Chang