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Trying to identify our purpose sucks.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

What’s your answer when someone asks who you are?

If you are like me, you talk about a career or family. I attended an MBA meet and greet. When asked by a director who I am or what my experience was, I drew a blank. I said, “I have a wife and a young son.”

My friend jumped in with her. “He has this degree and works in analytics.” He will not let me live that down (I’m sure it was because I was hungry, but I digress). Besides, my family is a part of who I am.

Yet, the question often eluded me. Does my career define me? Does my family define me? A hobby? Is it writing?

Searching For Why

I turned 34 this week. I recently began reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek. It’s interesting because it tends to flip the way I think.

It’s easier for me to look at what I do as an easy answer. But how often do I stop and ask why? The book does an excellent job of explaining what’s in my head.

The Golden Circle

Simon Sinek explains that most companies follow the What, How, and Why path. It’s easy to focus on what you do. That’s tangible.

I am a Market Analyst with over 12 years of experience is an easy answer. Or I am a writer. Whatever the answer, it’s always on the outer circle.

The how is simple as well. 10 Steps I Use To Write Killer Posts. I can explain to you how I do something. But it’s still not getting to the core of my why.

We’ve Been Conditioned

From a young age, we’re told to grow up and take on job titles. That tends to become who we are. The successful are doctors or lawyers. Analytical thinkers are engineers or economists.

Yet, why is often not something we consider. The reason, most of us don’t know. We grow up, go to school, get a job, and start working.

We hope we make enough to pay the bills and have something left at the end. I am starting to ask why?

The author makes a case that many companies outperform others because they can lead with why. Apple is the primary example from the book.

The company tends to cost more and have at times comparable specs as PCs. Yet, I am writing this on a Mac Mini. There is a certain tribal appeal to Apple products. The idea of belonging to a group appeals to customers (or fanboys).

Finding Your Why

Do you think you’d make different decisions if you identify why? I know I would. I have begun evaluating everything that I do — looking to determine why I am doing it.

Am I writing to get paid by Medium? Or do I have genuinely feel I have something to share? It’s causing me to question my motives and take an authentic look at myself.

Stop reading and think about your why. Are there blind spots where you are acting on autopilot?

My Journey Forward

I am not 100% on what my why is. I know in part. But I am still looking. Of course, I start with the cliche stuff. I’m innovative or passionate. I can’t go around being innovative or passionate with no substance.

I need to identify what why means for me. Will you recognize your why?

Take five minutes and write your why statement in the comments.

I will write mine as well.