In this episode, I talk about knowing your WHY and why I didn’t know my WHY.
It seems there’s a lot of pressure about knowing your WHY. It feels to me like knowing your WHY or feeling like you need to know your WHY can be just as paralyzing as it can be exciting. I suppose it’s because if you know your WHY, you can actually make ‘it’ happen.
Full transcript below.
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life, feel, knowing, paralyzing, talk, tremendous progress, race, rise, tremendous success, started, great, experiment, heard, cultivated, thought, epiphanies, job, lie, very few people, purpose
Mike Malatesta 00:04
Hey everybody, welcome back to the How’d It Happen Podcast. I’m so happy to have you here as I am every week. And this is another one of my special solo Friday episodes, it’s a short little bite of something I’ve been thinking about and that I wanted to share. And this week, it’s called “Why I didn’t know my WHY.” Why I didn’t know my WHY.
So you’re probably familiar with Simon Sinek. He is very famous for a lot of things, but one of the things he’s definitely famous for is this whole concept of knowing your WHY or finding your WHY or living your WHY or starting with WHY. I think it’s a great exercise; knowing your WHY has to be an amazing asset in life, right? Especially provided that you can do more than just know it, you can actually make it happen, for instance, and I think that knowing this whole pursuit of that, knowing your WHY — there’s a lot of pressure about knowing your WHY. It feels to me like knowing your WHY or feeling like you need to know your WHY can be just as paralyzing as it can be exciting.
I’ll share a story with you, and this is the most recent story. I’ve heard this a bunch, and maybe you have too, so let me know if you have, but it goes something like this: I was sitting with a parent of a former athlete that I coached. His son was graduating from college, and he told me that he didn’t know exactly what he was going to do post-graduation. He said something like, he really doesn’t want to do just something, just get a job because he really wants to do something that has a purpose that aligns with him. And I kind of use WHY and ‘purpose’ sort of interchangeably in these kinds of conversations. And when I heard that, I thought, Ah, okay, so, to me that’s maybe like this paralyzing thing that I’m talking about. And, like I said, he’s not alone. I mean, I think my kids have this too. And it may not be just young people, but I know that it is young people. And they feel like they have to have a WHY to be worth anything or to commit to anything. And again, I applaud that, I guess, but I also feel like it’s putting a big wall up between making progress and experimenting with something to help you eventually find your WHY, because in my experience, you know, having a WHY is not a place you can see when you start. Like there are very few people who know their WHY at a young age, and they’re very few people who even know at an old age.
It’s funny, I coach high-performing executives and entrepreneurs, and you’d be amazed how many people don’t know their WHY; they not only don’t know their WHY, but their ‘what,’ their ‘how.’ They don’t know any of that. But they’ve made tremendous progress in their lives nonetheless. Now maybe they know they definitely want to go further. They want to get a better handle on that. But, they made it a long way without really being able to articulate it. Now maybe they do know it intellectually; they just have trouble articulating it, but I don’t think so; I think they just put it to the side. And as I said, they still accomplish a lot and seem successful. But, you know, for me, I don’t think you need a WHY to take your first, second or, these days, even your 10th job.
You know, WHY’s to me are birthed, they’re cultivated through experience, experimentation. They’re cultivated through relationships and learning; they’re not epiphanies. I think that having or developing a great WHY is a byproduct of moving through life. It can’t be found at the starting line, you have to actually start the race, you have to start moving forward. And hopefully, you find it well before you get to the finish line of life, but I’d say that if you do, you’re still one of the lucky ones.
So I encourage you, you know, I want you to get it, I want you to find it. But it’s really not a race to get there, you have to be in the race in order to get there. And then once you own your WHY, you know, go ahead and maximize the hell out of it, because that’s power, when you know your WHY. when you know what you are on this earth to do. And you can do it and it can satisfy not just that but every other need that you have, you know, your family needs, your financial needs, all these other needs, then you’ve got a winning WHY for sure. But until then, I would suggest you put the TED talks down and let your WHY become your WHY. It’s not a race, it’s an exploration. So start exploring your life. And be aware, keep your eyes out, know when something feels right. Because that may be your WHY, but you may go down a path that you never ever thought was your WHY. That’s what happened to me.
You know, I started down a path, you know, in the trash business, because I like trucks, and I liked trash, but I hadn’t grown up wanting to be in the trash business or in the waste business. But you know, after I took the job, and I figured out how to do it well, and I started experiencing all different parts of the job, it started to become really cool to me. And so it started then, became a little bit more of my WHY and a little bit more of my WHY. And you know what, I was very fortunate to build two really great companies around a WHY that if you told me when I was graduating college or when I was going into college, that that’s where I would find my WHY in life, I would have told you that you were nuts, and everybody around me would have told me you were nuts. So you just don’t know, you just don’t know where your WHY is. So get out there and experiment with it, kick it around, you know, get into things. And I think you’ll see, if you’re one of the lucky ones, that your WHY will start to rise to the top like cream does, but if you wait for it to rise and you’re like, Ah yes, it’s risen; there’s my WHY, now I can start doing something, I feel like a lot of life’s going to pass you by.
So that’s my take on WHY. I didn’t know my WHY. And I do wish you tremendous success in knowing your WHY. If I can help you know your WHY or get to know your WHY, reach out; I’d be happy to talk to you about it. And until next time, keep being inspired to activate the greatness in you. Thanks for joining me on the How’d It Happen Podcast, and I’ll see you next time