Ideas. I am sure that we all have come across an awareness that seemingly changes our perspective and how we move through life. I had such an idea come to me a couple of weeks ago while preparing to do a group facilitation in nearby Boulder, Colorado. Prior to the meeting, I was thinking about how I could best help these individuals as they searched for what they wanted to accomplish in the next year. Now each facilitations is different from each other; so while I was thinking about this activity, I was drawn to its purpose. But the more I thought about the purpose I became more absorbed with the planning on how the event was going to transpire; which led me to feel like I really had nothing to offer them. On my drive to the location, I had a concept come to me; so, I presented it to them and it would eventually set the tone for the event. I asked them not to think, “What are we going to do to accomplish our mission?” but to think of the more basic question of “Why is our mission important?”
The concept of “why” over “what” is a simple one if we take the time to consider the difference. Oh sure, “what” is an action word that means that we are busy doing “something”. We may have started doing something based on a desire to accomplish a goal. But how many times do we continually do the same thing over and over again without reflecting on why we are doing it. As I think about the meeting with the group from Boulder, I remember not sensing that I left them with the best of feelings and now I know why. I could feel that there was a sense of frustration over their final collective decision and that was because the action plan that they had chosen was the same one that they had chosen the year before. My mistake was that I did not reflect on the comment that I started the meeting off with. Instead of allowing them to “sit” in their frustration, I should have asked them why this act was so important to them. I should have asked that they consider not “what” or “how” but to ask themselves “why”. The “why” will reflect their passion. The “why” will develop their truest identity.
There it is. The concept of “why”.
Individually we ask ourselves, why do we want to get a better education… or to be successful in business… or to be faithful in our relationships… or to stand up for social justice? Is it just because we know it is the right thing to do? Well, we know that telling the truth is the right thing to do. We know that obeying the laws is the right thing to do. We know a lot of “right thing” to do’s but yet we still don’t always do them.
Now this is where the story becomes a little more personal. I have asked myself the very same thing. Why do I write… why is it so important for me to study how to be a counselor… why do I eat healthy… why do I choose to work out the way that I do… why do I have the faith system that I have?
So let me offer this as a suggestions, when we are about to start a new phase of life or set a new goal, lets first ask ourselves why we want to do it. I believe that once we personally know the answer to “why” it will become a lot easier to discover “what” we want to do and “how” we should do it.