The unfortunate truth is that the world around us and the way that social media, influencers, celebrities, politics etc. is portrayed, it seems more and more that the most important things in life are, wealth, appearances, status and all things material. No one seems to care about why anything is what it is, as long as they can be seen by the rest of the world as successful.
Even the word 'successful' has been personified as having lots of things, earning a lot of money influencing your social status. The thing is that these lifestyles, hardly ever reflect the true feelings of their inhabitants. How many times have we heard of wealthy people struggling with depression, committing suicide or having drug addictions to cope?
This is partly due to people being fixated with the "what" rather that the "why". It is easy to say what you want out of life, but the deeper question is asking why you want that specific thing out of life.
Say for example you grew up like many conventional households. Old fashioned parents, perhaps struggling financially through life, perhaps you were not extremely popular, nor did you have access to many of the opportunities that some of your peers had. Yet your parents made ends meet through blood sweat and tears, whilst burning the candle from both ends. When you got old enough to a point where you could start selecting some school subjects in areas of interest, your parents suddenly start talking about engineering, doctors, lawyers and basically any skill set that would set you on a course to achieve what so many just dream about. Most people who grew up in this way want to be hired in jobs earning a huge salary, being respected and eventually maybe even running operations. From their own acute experience of struggling with finances and seeing what that meant, they tend to forget about anything other than being financially sound. We can’t really blame them, as money is an unfortunate yet huge necessity in life.
It is easy to say what you want out of life, but the deeper question is asking why you want that specific thing out of life.
This results in many of us heading off into a profession and direction where we can be financially successful. For many of us, fast forward 10 or so years into that profession, you start asking the questions: "Why am I doing this to myself?". Surely there must be someone out there that would enjoy this job, but it is just not for you. You sit and wonder what could’ve been, acutely aware that you can’t turn the clock back or quit now.
This is one of the many disastrous outcomes of not starting with why. For all choices in life, buying a house, getting children, marriage, choosing a career etc. one needs to start with why you want to do it, for it will predict a much longer-term happiness and sense of fulfillment in that choice. When you start with why, you allow your brain to work and not just your heart, for the heart has never been attributed to making the wisest decisions.
Starting most decisions with why involves the process of thinking beyond the object itself, the end result and how to get there. It involves the process of deciding whether this is what you want for your life. Does it help to fulfill your goal? Is this choice in line with your self-evaluation of character, passion and vision you have for yourself. Is it a choice that will ultimately be a something you want to live with, or rather a choice you can live with if you have to? Will the decision change your life, and if so, is it a life that you want and that will feed you with joy and fulfillment? Is it a choice that is in line with your goals, both financial, personal, spiritual, relationship or otherwise? These are just some questions to answer when deciding why you make a specific life-altering choice.
Is this choice in line with your self-evaluation of character, passion and vision you have for yourself. Is it a choice that will ultimately be a something you want to live with, or a choice you can live with if you have to?
When I was still in varsity, I had had a friend who was unhappy with his choice of studies. He grinded it out through the first year, with most of the signs of dissatisfaction and unhappiness already there. For the purpose of not letting his parents, family and friends down, he pushed further. In his second year, we as friends starting noticing his failing courage to keep up with this fake façade of happiness. He crumbled under the pressure and eventually admitted that he hated what he was studying. During his grieving of wasting 2 years and thousands of dollars, I reminded him that 10 years from now when his married with kids, dogs and a house, this was the wisest choice he would have ever made. Admitting mistake and course correcting carries no shame. Now he stands a chance to select appropriately, taking into careful consideration why he wants to study a specific course. His courage helped him dodge a bullet of a lifetime worth of potential despair.
The simple mistake he made, is the same mistake all of us have made at certain points of our life, with varying degree of adversity or recourse. This mistake could’ve well set him up for a lifetime of sorrow. This sorrow would rub off on his family and friends. It would start swallowing him whole, and define his character. He knew the what, where and how to get a certain degree that would provide for a financially sound future, not considering the why at all. We all know that finances alone, does not guarantee success, nor joy.
If we take this into the workplace, the same concept of ‘why’ applies deeply to everything as well. For employees to be truly invested and motivated by the company, the employees should understand and believe with unequivocal doubt, why the company exists, builds or creates what it does. As Simon Sinek explained, "happy employees ensure happy customers. Happy customers ensure happy shareholders."
So many times, we support certain brands, especially luxury brands, not because of what they do, but why they do it. We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe in. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.
Some leading brands like for example Apple, Tesla and Titleist sell you on a story and a lifestyle. They’re products communicate success, status, unrivaled quality, uncompromising attention to detail and more. These are metrics that trigger an emotional response to products. You could even say that many people owning these brands, love these brands.
These are metrics that trigger an emotional response to products. You could even say that many people owning these brands, love these brands.
For a brand to be loved by its users, they have to look far beyond the what, why and how to make their product. Many of these brands also have amazing talent working for them. They hire people for their attitude and their shared pursuit of the companies’ why. All other skills can be taught. They need to make the reason why their solution exists stand out as their number one focus, for this is where the magic happens and brands that are loved are born.