As 2017 launches, people scramble to prepare for a new year and to make change for the future. It’s all the same, but what really is the difference between success and failure? Is that even the right question? Or should we be more concerned with maintaining a sense of purpose and fulfillment that supersedes success and failure? If so, how do we do that?
Simple answer: start asking yourself 'why.' Why do you do what you do on a daily basis, personally and professionally? Why do you struggle to go to sleep on Sunday night and get up Monday morning? Why do you feel most alive participating in your local open mic night? It is miraculous that as kids, we can’t stop asking ‘why’ but as adults we so seldom explore what matters to us even though this is the single most guiding aspect of how we construct our identity in relationships, in our careers, in learning and development, and in our lively existence overall. I find Simon Sinek’s perspective on vision and the why of life to be illuminating and stirring in a way that clarifies and invigorates my personal process. If you haven’t watched his TED talk, it is well worth the time. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA&t=1s)
If you prefer a more dollars and cents frame, it is important to note that this question permeates not only at the individual level but also the organizational level. Consumers want to buy into something they believe, something that's compatible with their values. Businesses are a personified embodiment in their own right, which leads to people looking for higher purpose within the products and services they sell as well as the cultural image they put forth. People are hungry for reason and meaningful vision in business and life alike. It is a lot easier to handle failure and difficulty when inspired to keep striving toward something greater. Furthermore, success is a lot sweeter when it aligns with intrinsic motivation. This holds true for the experience of individuals and businesses.
All in all, we beautifully have a beginning and an end. We are tiny specks in a much grander system that we may never completely understand or even fathom its expansiveness. We have less control than we are probably comfortable admitting, but we have absolute ability to evaluate how we spend our time and adjust according to what means the most to us a human beings with varying interests, callings, priorities, associations, roles, strengths, challenges, ambitions, and dreams. While my articulation may not quite be harmonious with the “unshakable optimist” tone of Sinek, I think we’re in agreement when it comes to designing our experiences. Call it skepticism or call it self-actualization, grab the reins and drive your own meaningful journey filled with 'whys' and aligned with what you actually care about. Good luck!