Want to know a secret…the secret of success?
Well, here it is: There is no secret.
There’s no real “secret” to success; in fact, success is different for everyone, so defining one “secret” would be impossible to do. However, there is a single phrase that can help you find the secret for yourself: Know what your WHY is.
Know what your WHY is.
To be successful, you have to know what success looks like; otherwise you’ll just run around in circles chasing someone else’s definition of success.
Do you know what your WHY is? Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you work so hard? Why are you in the industry you’re in?
Everyone has a WHY. But most don’t know what it is until they really think about it. If you walked up to a random person on the street and said, “Why do you go to work everyday?” the likely answer would be “To support my family” or something like that. Some who are little more in tune with their WHY might say “Because I love what I do.” But, even that doesn’t say WHY.
Your WHY can be just about anything…
- To make a difference in the world
- To make lots of money
- To leave a legacy for my children
- To spend time with my family
- To help others find their passion
- To be able to take 3 months for traveling the globe every year
Once you know your WHY, it acts like a filter for decision-making. You can ask yourself, “Does this connect with my WHY?” And if it doesn’t, then you can pass on the opportunity. When it does – perfect – you can move forward.
Find Your WHY
There are a couple different ways I’ve learned to help find your WHY.
- Derek Sivers wrote a great blog post titled “What If You Didn’t Need Money or Attention.” I hope you’ll click on that link and read the post, but even if you don’t, you get the point by just reading the title. Want to know what your WHY is? Pretend you have all the money you could possibly imagine and that no one else is around to see what you do…what would you do then? What would motivate you?
- Tim Ferris, in his book The 4-Hour Work Week, asks a similar question: What would you do if there were no way you could fail? If you were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world? He admits this may be a tough question, so he breaks it down into two more specific considerations: 1) What would you do, day to day, if you had $100 million in the bank? And 2) What would make you most excited to wake up in the morning to another day?
In both cases, the idea of money and status is removed. It’s all about what YOU would do if those things didn’t matter any more. Sure, these are tactical steps to try to define a big picture concept, but asking yourself these questions will get you thinking about what your WHY really is.
Here’s the Really Hard Part
So, now what? You’ve defined your WHY, but you’re not sure where to go from here. The next question would be this: Does your current situation connect directly or indirectly with your WHY?
If your WHY is to be a great example for your kids in everything you do, then it may not matter what role you play or what position you hold, you can be the best you can be at that job, at home and in any setting where your kids are involved.
But, what if your WHY doesn’t match up somehow? What if your WHY is to help others find their passion, but you’re a salesperson who works 100 hours a week and never has time for connecting with people outside of work? This is when it gets hard. You either need to make a decision to change things at work to be more aligned with your WHY or you need to find a new role or change jobs altogether.
When your WHY and your WHAT (the stuff you do every day) are aligned, success is sure to follow.
Make It Happen
If you haven’t done so already, think through the questions above. Discover your WHY and write it down. If you’re struggling to connect your WHAT and your WHY, don’t just quit your job tomorrow; try to find a way to get them into alignment. If it’s just not working, then it’s time to make a bigger change.