Discover Your Why
Editor’s note: This is a guest post on discovering your why from Janine de Nysschen. Her clients call her a change maker and a purpose strategist – helping bring clarity, direction, and a sense of meaning. Janine, trained as a change agent and intelligence professional, has more than 25 years of experience in strategy and change. Before starting Whytelligence, she worked at Microsoft as a strategist in audience intelligence and globalization. Before that she worked for the South African government where she was on the core team that transformed post-apartheid intelligence structures – a feat that many thought was impossible.
Janine believes there’s a sense of purpose instilled in everyone. It defines the difference you want to make in this world, and it inspires everything you do. … Do you know why you do what you do? Here’s Janine to help you discover your why …
Every day you make a choice about how you show up in this world – at work, in your business, in life. Some of us show up because of what we do. We measure our success by the number of product features we build, how many goods we sell, how many client calls we make. Others show up because of how they do things. Their success is measured in quality and precision, speed and efficiency, even the depth of client relationships. The third, and smallest group – are people who show up for a distinct reason. They have a cause that drives them, a belief that inspires them. They want to challenge the status quo, help people find the power to do what matters to them, show others how to reach their full potential… For them, success is fulfilling their purpose.
Working for Passion Outweighs Working for a Paycheck
It’s these people who thrive, who do well professionally, and who love their lives. They make better choices about where they work and what they do, because they know why they do it. And it’s simple. If you want a more purposeful life, then you should be doing things you love – not just the things you’re good at. Working for passion far outweighs working for a paycheck.
But how do you get clear about your purpose – how do you know what your real reason is for showing up?
Well, this past week I’ve had a flurry of resumes in my inbox. I’m not a recruiter. But I am on a mission to help people make changes that will let them find the jobs they want, be more successful in their careers and live more meaningful lives.
Why is More Important than What
For the people I help, my starting question remains the same: “Do you know your purpose in life?” When you’re looking for work, communicating why you want to do things is always more important than what you can do. No matter how many Profiles and Objective statements I read, they mostly focus on skills, achievements, or ability to do the task at hand. But we sell ourselves short when it’s all about what we can do, and not what we stand for.
It’s Not What You Think, It’s What You Feel
Any basic search of the Internet will return a plethora of purpose guides. That’s always a good place to begin. But if you really want to discover true purpose, you have to break through the limitation of saying what you think is expected versus what you really feel.
A Story …
Take my client, Summer. She went through a purpose exercise and announced that she was passionate about creating and building an energetic place to work, where it would be fun to come every day. That sounded good, but my first question to her was: why was it important for her to build that kind of work environment? She answered that if people want to really take care of stuff, they had to first look after themselves and then look after each other. I found her reply – all the “looking after” – interesting. So I asked why that was significant. She said she believed people could only do good work when they were enabled and empowered. Her belief was a strong clue to her passion. I asked her to explain it to me. Then Summer told me the story of how she’d been sickly and shy as a child, but when she joined a gym class, her coach helped her find inner strength to compete not just with others, but also to succeed in the world. Why did it matter so much to her? Because she discovered that when you help people through their vulnerabilities, you can show them that life gets better.
Understanding the why behind Summer’s passion helped her discover that she thrives in job roles where she can help people who are in vulnerable positions. And no, this didn’t mean that Summer was destined to be a nurse. Any job or project where she could help people overcome a challenge and find a better way would satisfy her passion.
Spot the Difference Between What You Do vs. Why You Do It
There’s a simple test that let’s you spot the difference between selling yourself based on what you do versus why you do it. It’s how it makes you feel. Because passion isn’t logic – its emotion.
If you were a manager, which statement would convey more to you about this person’s purpose?
- I have 14+ years of experience with computers: installing and configuring operating systems, and doing many various hardware/software upgrade. I have experience managing and maintaining a well-running IT environment, configuring/securing/encrypting wired/wireless networking, and much more. I am looking for a role as a IT / Tech Support / Network Administrator.
- I am passionate about helping people find solutions that make their lives easier. That’s why in the jobs I’ve had until now I have become the natural go-to-guy who is always interested in solving problems, helping people make smarter choices and finding better and more efficient ways to get things done. I am drawn to working in IT because technology is at the heart of all the things people do these days – it’s how we manage our lives, keep organized and connect with others. A role in IT / Tech Support / Network Admin would therefore allow me to help people live more fully. I have 14+ years experience managing and maintaining a well-running IT environment…
Purpose is Powerful
Helping people find their purpose is powerful, because you watch them have a visceral response to something that they feel deep inside, and have a hard time expressing. So when you think about your purpose, remember to ask yourself why at least five times: why is it important, why is that significant, why do you believe that, why do you feel strongly about your belief, and why does that matter to you?
The answer may surprise you! You’ll find some guidelines in the attached Purpose Pack PDF, but if you’re curious to know more about your purpose, try this quick two-step process.
Step One: Answer 10 Purpose Questions
The trick to this exercise is to be candid with yourself, and to write down the first thing that comes to your mind. After your initial answer, write down why you feel that response is significant to you – why does it matter to you?
- What one thing do you wish your parents had known about life that would have made things easier or better for them?
- What did you miss most in your childhood – the thing you would like as a do-over?
- Is there any guidance that would have influenced your life positively that you wish someone had given you when you were a teen?
- What is your believe statement? (I believe that … )
- How do you support or contribute to this ideal or principle that you believe?
- What profound impact would you like to have on other people’s lives?
- How do you know when you have done a good job?
- If you had $10 Million to spend on any charity of your choice, how would you spend it?
- What personal qualities or achievements do you want to be remembered for?
- If you could supersize one thing you do well, what would be your superhero skill?
Step Two: Identify Your Purpose
In this step, you boil your answers from the 10 purpose questions down into a one-liner purpose statement. To do so:
- Review the answers to your 10 Purpose questions.
- Write down the empowering words that appear most often.
- Choose the words that inspire you, that make you feel good – link them back to times you felt happy and successful.
- Write one sentence that sums up why those words or phrases are important in your life. Keep this sentence as simple and clear as possible.
Here are some other people’s purpose statements that answer the question: Why do you do what you do?
- I love to empower others to overcome limits so that they are free to keep pursuing new challenges.
- I want to help others find their power so that they can make better choices.
- I believe in working with others for the benefit of all.
- I want to inspire people to do the things that inspire them, so they can find their special contribution to the world.
- I love to connect people and opportunities so that potential can be realized.
- I believe in helping others find the best life has to offer, so that they can achieve great things.
- I make good things happen, so people can be more and do more.
And remember. The next time you apply for a job, don’t tell people what you want. Tell them why you want it!
Download the Free Purpose Pack PDF
The Purpose Pack PDF includes exercises and worksheets to help you discover your why.