The moment I realised why I'm doing this
I had a mini crisis last night.
I watched this film - ‘Sicario’ – it’s about drug cartels and bad cops. Lots of eerie music, beautifully shot, very atmospheric, one of those movies that really draws you in, you know?
I like to sit in silence for a bit when I’ve watched a film that’s had a big impact on me. I turn the sound down, let the credits roll, and just sit for a minute, thinking about the message behind the film, taking it in.
The film was partly set in Mexican slums, portraying innocent families torn apart by drug trafficking, and the lengths people will go to when their heart is broken.
Iain always says to me ‘it’s just a film’, like ‘don’t take it so seriously’, but how can I not? Good films are just someone’s story being retold, right? It’s got to have come from somewhere. And just because it’s in a film, doesn’t mean it’s not happening out there in the real world. How can I not be affected?
Well this one really got me.
As the final credits came, I sat processing the stories and the characters, and feeling more and more sad at the thought of these things really happening out in the world. Families living in the most awful conditions - tin-roofed shacks in slums, mothers not knowing if their kids will eat, or even come home alive, which to them is just normal daily life. I felt a pain, a real depth of sadness, knowing it’s all going on out there, and wondering what am I ever going to be able to do to help effect the behemoth of systemic change needed to correct these massive wrongs.
Then I just took myself to pieces - what the hell am I doing? This pathetic, silly business I’m building suddenly felt so flippant and surface, and nothing compared to what was really needed in the world. What difference could I ever assume to make, what dewdrop of impact would me coaching ever have on the real problems of the world?
What was the point? All the work I’d done over the last few months, the hours I’d put into writing and developing my programme, building my website, grafting my ass off into the night to launch my business, it was all about to come crashing down, because it felt meaningless.
Then I sat for a bit longer with that question – what was the point? Why am I doing this?
I’ve been devouring books and websites lately, while deep in development mode. The Do Book Company came up on my radar twice, with Purpose and Story, both of which talked about either the importance of the Why in your business, or people who were really clear on their why, and killing it with brilliant businesses that are a force for good. There’s also the fantastic Simon Sinek, who I think came up with the whole Why thing in the first place, with his great TED talk.
The basic premise is that a business with a really clear Why is going to have a bigger impact than a business that concentrates simply on the What.
And it’s true, when I look around me, the businesses or people or organisations I’m drawn to have a really strong Why - it comes through in how they put themselves out there, and it makes what they do have more substance somehow, more depth. There’s more to it for them than just making money, they are using their business to help change things for the better in some way.
And there it was - it’s exactly because I’m moved when I think about the state of the world that I’m doing this work.
Because I want to make a difference to people’s lives.
I don’t want anyone to suffer. Not at home, nor at work. One way that lots of people suffer is being stuck in crappy jobs that make them unhappy. If work is good, we’re going to be happier people, more fulfilled. A fulfilled person is a person with the capacity to inspire others. That’s how change happens - one person at a time.
I'm not saying you have to go out and start saving the world; those are my values. I'm saying that for work to be fulfilling, there's got to be a point to it. If you want to love your work, you've got to have a reason for being there, other than just the money.
Why do you do what you do? Do you work to earn to go on amazing travels? Then why you do it is clear - you do it to broaden your experience of the world. Do you work to provide something that benefits someone else? That’s a pretty clear Why. If you don’t know why you do what you do, start with what’s important to you. Is it family, your home, your art that gets funded by your day job? Maybe the reason you do what you do is simply that you enjoy it, it brings you pleasure and contentment. When we know why we’re doing what we do, we know the purpose of it. And while I swore that I wouldn’t use that word, there’s no escaping the fact that having a purpose to what we do is important, even if that purpose is to go on incredible holiday adventures. So maybe the way to 'find your purpose' is to simply get to grips with why you do what you do.