“He who has a why can endure any how.” – Frederick Nietzsche
John C. Maxwell, one of the greatest success authors of our time, tells a story of a gentleman who comes across three bricklayers hard at work. The man asks the first bricklayer what he is doing, and he replies “I am laying bricks.” The man asks the second bricklayer what he is doing, and he replies “I am putting up a wall.” The man then asks the third bricklayer what he was doing, and he replies “I am building a cathedral.”
Ask yourself this question. Are you laying bricks, are you putting up a wall, or are you building a cathedral? Though each of these bricklayers was doing the same task, they were each driven by a very different why. The first one was merely completing the work for money. It was a job that had to get done. The second one did have some sense that each brick was part of something more substantial, but the third bricklayer did not view his task as laying bricks at all. He saw the future of his efforts and how each brick created something much more significant, more powerful, more important, and more worthy than himself.
In this story, do you think the first bricklayer put in extra time to make sure the job was done well? When it got hot and the day got long, do you think the second bricklayer gave everything he had to finish the wall? Maybe so, but you can be sure that no matter what happened, the third bricklayer, the one who knew the reason behind each brick, gave everything he had to do an incredible job. The third bricklayer was motivated by something more than money. He was encouraged by something greater than each individual action or outcome. He understood and was driven by his why.
No matter what you dream of having or accomplishing in your life, it will take hard work and tremendous effort to realize those dreams. Along the way, you will be faced with distractions, you will be asked to make decisions, and there will be obstacles that stand firmly in your path. In those moments of challenge, it is how you react and the choices you make that will guide you to your ultimate destination. This is where knowing your why is so very important.
Your Why Gives Your Actions Purpose
The moment you understand your why your actions will begin to take on new meaning. Like in our story earlier, it’s the difference between merely laying a brick and knowing inside that each brick you lay gets you one step closer to walking into a magnificent cathedral. Understanding your why gives the actions that you take purpose as they become part of something greater than a single task and even greater than yourself. In a literal sense, knowing your why allows you to know why you take each action in your life.
Your Why Guides Your Decisions
When you understand your why and keep it in the forefront of your mind as you pursue your goals and dreams, it will guide the many decisions you will be faced with along your journey. Imagine a team of young athletes whose purpose is to win the state championship. They feel the pride of their school. They can feel the camaraderie of their teammates. They can see themselves holding the championship trophy, and they can hear their families cheering for the win. They know their why. The decision to get out of bed early for practice is made easier because they know their why. The decision to go home rather than go to the party is made easier because they know their why. The decision to push further when every muscle in their body wants to give up is made easier because they know their why. When you understand your why, it will guide your decisions on the way to achieving your dreams.
Your Why Motivates You To Overcome
No matter what you set out to do in life, there will always be obstacles on your journey to success. Knowing your why will help you to overcome those obstacles and stay on course to your destination. Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to give up? When you know your why, you are not only giving up on the task, you are giving up on your dreams. Have you ever stopped short of finding the answer even though you were certain it was there somewhere? When you know your why, you are not only stopping short of the answer, you are stopping short of your future. It is your why that keeps you going when you don’t feel like it. It is your why that makes you try again when you don’t think you can. It is your why that motivates you to overcome whatever obstacle gets in your way.
How To Find Your Why
Over the years, I’ve heard many people express that they have no idea how to find out what their why is. While the topic can be elusive and your why will probably change from time to time, there are four questions you can ask yourself that will help you realize a why that empowers your personal journey. Those questions are :
1 – What makes you feel inspired?
2 – What are you awesome at?
3 – What makes the most difference?
4 – What is the purpose of your life?
What Makes You Feel Inspired?
The word inspired means “to breathe life into.” It literally means to feel alive. When you are working on something that truly inspires you, that is when you feel most alive. That is what makes your life have meaning. Ask yourself what makes your life worth living. This question is not about personal goals and dreams, it’s about something that is larger than yourself. It’s about your passion. It’s about that thing that makes you want to give everything with every breath you breathe. Ask yourself the question “What makes me feel inspired?”
What Are You Awesome At?
Have you ever wondered why other people find something challenging to do? It’s something that you are so good at that you really can’t understand why other people find it difficult. These are the things you are awesome at. Don’t you find that when you are doing something you are really good at that you are more productive? It’s also true that when you are doing something you feel confident about, that you add more value to the project and to the people around you. Furthermore, when you are “in your element,” you will always be a happier person. Wouldn’t you like to do things you are great at, feel happiness as you do them and add incredible value to those around you? Ask yourself the question “What am I awesome at?”
What Makes The Most Difference?
There are lots of different things that you could wake up every day and do. What if you could fall asleep each evening knowing that you made the most impact on the world that you possibly could. What if you could know that you truly made a difference. Amongst all the things you could be doing, how could you have the most impact? How could you use your skill set to solve the biggest challenge? How could you use your mindset to have the most influence on other peoples lives? How could you use your drive and determination to create the most change in the world? Of all the things you could be doing, ask yourself “What could I do to make the most difference?”
What Is The Purpose of Your Life?
Living with purpose means that you focus on what matters most in your life. It’s easy to get focused on what needs to happen now, rather than knowing, with every decision, every action, every breath, what truly matters to you. No matter where you are in life at the moment, once you determine what your life’s purpose is, you will find that your thoughts begin to change and your decisions and actions will follow suit. This change begins the path to the life you desire to be living. We are all put here with a purpose and the most impactful thing that you can do for yourself, your family and for your future is to identify yours. Ask yourself the question “What is the purpose of my life?”
Knowing your why is the difference between simply being alive and shaping a life truly worth living. I am certain you know people who are incredibly talented, have access to great opportunities and have big goals and dreams, but – for some reason – don’t achieve those goals or live a life that they are in love with. Maybe that person is you. In order to live the life of your dreams, in order to reach the heights you were born to achieve, you must determine why you are living your life. You must identify why you take each action. Simply put, you must find out your why.
Take the time to ask yourself these questions. Allow your mind, and your heart and your soul to let go of what currently is and to envision what is possible. Craft the answers that empower you to become the person you know you are and to live the life you know you deserve. When you answer the question “What is my why?” there is no goal you cannot achieve, no dream you cannot fulfill and no future you cannot create.
What is your why?