People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. – Eleanor Roosevelt
I am blessed to be a Trustee of Western Michigan University, a leader of an organization that believes that the greatest force for change is a job, and has a strong commitment to internships, as well as a dad, all of which put me in an environment to talk with people about their future. And all of the future conversations start with the same questions: why, how and what. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about these questions and the order they are asked in.
This should always be the first question we ask ourselves: “why do I do/believe/think/act the way I do?” As I have spent time over the past three decades consulting with existing and emerging leaders from all walks of life, it has become clear that the great ones understand their why first. It is clear they were born with their why, it is part of their DNA, part of God’s hand print on them, it is who they are at their core and they have chosen to embrace their unique gift of why.
My why is to work to lift people toward economic freedom, through empowerment I strive to move victims to conquerors, no matter the sphere.
Second, what do I want to do with my gift, my why? For instance, a great runner can choose from various arenas of running: short distance, cross country, soccer and more. The point is there are a variety of ways for our why to manifest itself. Many leaders and students I consult with become confused by thinking narrow-minded. Do not put your what in a box, your what can look different, and should look different in different seasons. You aren’t stuck doing something one way forever, give yourself room to explore.
My what has manifested itself in multiple forms: a businessman creating quality jobs, an elected official creating better conditions, an economic developer working with companies to scale job growth and economic strength, and now, as a leader seeking to grow other leaders who then create jobs and improve conditions to impact people’s lives toward economic freedom. The why has remained at the core but the what adjusts.
Not to be confused with what, how you do something is the means you use to execute the what. For example, a farmer who grows tomatoes has a why (to feed people), a what (tomatoes) and how (through organic practices and heritage seeds). Though our what may look like someone else’s, our how can be innovative, it can be life changing. Your how is what sets you apart.
My how is the combination of unique programs and services we lead in the community that guide and equip leaders to reach their maximum potential (you can find and join us on our journey here) coupled with the internal organizational culture I set forth for our team.
We have each been created to live a unique and impactful life and only by embracing and understanding our own WHY, WHAT and HOW can we ultimately find our personal missions and success.
Question: What are you doing to cultivate your why, what and how?