In my last post, I talked about what success is and that it’s definition is unique to everyone.
So, what does success mean to you?
Is your current definition of success based on what you think other people or society agrees that it is? Or maybe you just don’t know? There’s nothing wrong with that!
We have a tendency to want to have everything figured out before we do something or take action.
An essential part of working out what success means to you and then working towards achieving it is knowing your “why”.
Popularised by Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why, it’s the concept that people (including yourself) won’t buy into or get behind something until you understand the “why” behind it.
And it’s a compelling and effective way to influence people in both sales and leadership.
It’s also a great way to motivate and inspire you to achieve whatever success means to you.
But what if you don’t know your “why”? What if you’re not even sure what success is?
Should you sit around and wait, carrying on with life until your “why” comes to you?
You could… but it’s unlikely to happen!
The good news is you don’t need to know your why because you can find it – it just takes some action.
You Don’t Need to Know Your “Why”
If you look at everything you do in your life and decisions you’ve made – whether it’s your choice of career or what you had for lunch – there’s a reason or a “why” behind them.
Often that reason is because of something external to you. Your parents heavily influenced the career you’re doing or you bought a particular car because it will make you look successful to your friends.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with doing things because of external reasons. After all, abiding by the law is an excellent external reason to do (or not do) something!
However, if your “whys” are always external, the success that you’re trying to achieve will be a difficult, frustrating road, and not particularly satisfying when you get there.
Instead, for success, your “why” must come from you.
And it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to work out a “why” that you think other people will approve of. Something big and grand. Something that will make you look good.
It doesn’t have to be anything like that. It just has to be personal and meaningful to you.
It could be as simple as just wanting to enjoy yourself.
You also don’t have to have one big overarching “why”. You could have different “whys” for different parts of your life.
In fact, you can turn external “whys” into internal ones and dramatically change the way you view your life.
What if your external “why” for having your job is because you need the money. You don’t particularly love the work, but it pays the bills, so you’ll slog it out 9am – 5pm, week in an week out.
Doesn’t sound exciting or “successful”, does it?
I had a job selling fire extinguishers. If you’re in sales, you’ll know that it can be a tough gig and even tougher if you’re selling a product you’re not particularly passionate about. I wasn’t excited about fire extinguishers and saying I was in the job because of the money wasn’t going to keep me going.
So, I had to find another “why”. The “why” I discovered positively impacted both my performance and my happiness. It wasn’t the money, but what the money could do for my family.
To me, being able to provide for my family and enable them to have the lifestyle they wanted was success.
So, you don’t need to know your “why” right now because you can find it.
And, as a bonus, changing your “whys” from external to internal can have a dramatic impact on your life – and you’ll see how successful you already are!
What Do You Want to Achieve?
We’ve been talking about finding meaningful “whys” in things you’re already doing.
And it can be a lot easier to find your “why” this way, than to try and work it out first.
It is very hard to plan a journey when you don’t know the destination!
However, people often get stuck waiting for their “why” to appear like a magical epiphany before they start on their path to success.
Instead, work out what you want to achieve? What do you want to do? It can be anything running a business, travelling the world (maybe not right at the moment!), or having a family.
Once you know this, you have your destination.
Now you can work out your “why”. I bet you a few things on your list would initially have “whys” that aren’t yours, but come from society or the people around you. Either change the “why” to something personal to you or remove it from your list. Remember, success is what success means to you – not anyone else.
You’re probably thinking, I’ve written lists of what I want to do and achieve before, some of them have happened, and others haven’t. What will be different this time?
The difference is “why”. Understanding the why behind any goal or objective you want to achieve will inspire, motivate and influence you to get there much more powerfully compared to having only the “what”.
And your “whys” can be anything, as long as they mean something to you.
Working out Your Vision
Now, that you know what you want to achieve and what your “why” is for each of them, you’ll start to see a vision unfolding.
Your vision of success.
That’s not saying you’re not successful now (you already are), but it’s a vision of the next success that you’re working towards.
This vision of success needs to be clear. It must include what you want to be and what you want to do and be underpinned by why you want to do these things.
And it’s your, not society’s, vision of success.
Write it down. Frame it. Put it on your wall, so you see it every day.
This is your reminder, your inspiration and motivation for why you get out of bed and take on life.
It’s not going to be easy, but if you know why you’re doing it, you’ll have the determination and resilience to get the success you want.
Having a personal reason or “why” for doing things completely changes your effectiveness and happiness.
The same is true when you’re working towards achieving a success. “Why” is a powerful tool to inspire and motivate you to get what you want.
But you don’t need to know your “why” to start with. Instead, start with what you want to do – your goals and objectives – and then work out your “whys”.
As long as these “whys” are yours and not anyone else’s, you’ll be able to create a clear vision of where you want to go.
Now that you know your vision, in my next blog we’ll look at how to get there.
Sharn Piper – CEO
M: +64 27 733 4333