Simon Sinek’s excellent book “Start with why” inspired this post. In that book he says,
Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?Simon Sinek. Start with Why
Let’s look at why ‘why’ matters so much. Most of us are so caught up with ‘What’ happens in our daily life. Who said what? What happened in the neighborhood? What happened at office? What did someone post on instagram or facebook or twitter? We are so razzled-dazzled by the ‘whats’ in our lives. The whats are indeed important. You need a good vocabulary of the knowledge of events in order to make sense of things, in order to stay relevant and be able to participate in the discussion. However, what is perhaps equally, if not more important is the “why”. Why did someone say something? Why did someone post something on facebook? Why is the world not experiencing a second wave of Corona Virus. The beginning of wisdom lies here. This difference is crucial in making our lives more meaningful.
Knowing the “why” helps you go to the root of the problem, and understand patterns between events. You can begin to discern between what is important in your life and what is irrelevant by looking at why. Why does this piece of news excite you? Why did you feel bad when someone said it? By starting to look at the “Whys” we begin to come closer to the truth of who we are. We begin to question ourselves with an absolute openness. To put it poetically, why is the connection to our soul – our innermost cravings, desires and needs.
Whys are crucial in helping us prioritize our lives. In today’s world where we have a myriad of distractions and enticing things to keep our minds occupied, asking “why should I do this?”, helps us become aware of what we must do. In the beginning our why’s may not have any answer. But gradually over time, as we deepen this practice of asking why, we begin to get in touch with our aims, aspirations and proclivities. After a while, even asking why falls away and an intuitive knowledge dawns within us. But first, we must begin to ask why before we can drop it altogether.
Next time you are applying to a job or a scholarship or an MBA course – whatever it is, ask ‘Why am I doing it’? And if you do not have a good enough reason for it, you might want to reconsider doing it. Often in life, we do things without any meaning or purpose. Some of us are too proud to accept that these were failures and disguise the failure in the name of “oh it was fun”. Remember, that you did not start off the activity wanting it to be fun. Be honest with yourself. And ask deeply – Why?
The perils of not asking why are profound. You will lead a life of mediocrity – led by base human impulses of likes and dislikes, social pressures and opinions and random decisions that might not make sense in retrospect. Asking why doesn’t guarantee that you will not make mistakes in the decisions that you took. Nobody can ever be sure if their decisions turn out to be right until they have taken it. But asking why, gives you purpose and energy to give everything to the path that you have chosen. And if the decision turns out to be wrong, then you learn humbly – but you never regret – because your motivation to do that action burns strongly in you. That truth can never diminish. And this might propel you to take a different course of action to keep alive the purpose – the why.
Whys are the purpose of your life. They give meaning to your existence. Find an activity you love immensely and ask why am I doing it. If the answer is “Because I cannot imagine my life without it” – then we have found something that all of us are craving for. Ourselves.
Start with why. It can transform your life.