Simon Sinek’s TED Talk went viral after explaining how great leaders inspire action through clearly communicating their WHY. However, this innately assumes one already knows their WHY. There can be a sense of feeling behind the eight ball if you aren’t able to define your life’s purpose in one sentence. I should have already figured this out. It seems so simple, but I have no idea. Why is this so hard for me?
To share your WHY with others, first you have to know how to put words to the fire inside of you. While I don’t believe there is an easy formula, I have found there is a general method that seems to resonate with most people. First, make a bullet point list of all the things that you are most passionate. Don’t feel the need to use fancy words or catchy terms, but rather focus on simply listing what most fuels you in life. Once you have finished the list, consider themes you might see. For example, if you love helping coach youth sports teams, teaching younger people how to use tools, and listening to college students share their stories – one theme could be investing in the next generation. If you are struggling to identify themes, perhaps ask a close confidant what themes they recognize. Gradually, narrow down the focus.
After you have reflected and identified possible themes among the list, then analyze why those themes are important to you. Take it one step deeper. To use the previous example, why is it important to you to invest in the next generation? What about investing in younger people fuels you? Zoom in. Zoom in a little closer. A little more. Once you have gone through this process, often times this serves as a great foundation for determining your WHY.
Another important aspect to consider when defining your WHY is to think about your gifts and talents. What areas do you often find yourself helping others? How are others encouraged by you? What feedback do others share about your strengths? Sometimes our normal becomes so familiar that it’s easy to overlook our superpowers, and our talents become minimized far too long. It’s time to shine brighter than ever. Own your WHY, step into your extraordinary, and change the world like never before.