#111 Why Do You Do What You Do?

Are we just muddling through life in a job, for instance, or do we wake up each morning passionate about the calling that has beckoned us?

I have been preparing for three upcoming presentations.  Each will require, in part, that participants examine their purpose in life. Why do they do what they do—at work, at home, in the community, and in relationships? 

One question I pose is this: When you awaken in the morning and place your feet on the floor, why will you be doing what you will be doing today?  Besides earning a buck, why will you be going to your job today? Why will you be doing the volunteer work you will be doing? In short, what inspires you to do what you do?

Jim Collins defines purpose as “the set of fundamental reasons for a company’s existences beyond just making money…it guides and inspires…it is enduring….”  One activity that he writes about is illustrative and will help all of us dig a little deeper into our purpose.  It is the “Five Whys.”  Here is what you do.

  • Focus on one aspect of your life—business, relationship, or community service for instance. It can even be a small piece of one of those larger dimensions of your life.
  • Write a one sentence statement that captures your purpose—a statement that captures why you do what you do.
  • Then ask yourself about what you just wrote as your purpose: “Why is this important?” Write your answer.
  • Then ask yourself, “Why is this important?” four more times (for a total of five).
  • By time you answer the 5th question you have drilled down a little deeper—closer to the core of why you are doing what you are doing.
  • Any insights? Are you satisfied with the answers?  Do you need to make adjustments?

Here is an example I have used in faculty development.  You can easily substitute a methodology or strategy that is appropriate to your line of work.

Statement:  My purpose as a teacher is to actively engage (with questions, activities, problems, and controversy) my students in each class lesson.

  1. Why is it important to use this strategy?

}  Requires on-task participation.

  1. Why is it important for students to participate on task?

}  Encourages active learning.

  1. Why is it important to encourage active learning?

}  Helps make personal connections to the content.

  1. Why is it important to establish personal connection?

}  Establishes relevance, curiosity, and excitement.

  1. Why is it important to establish relevance, curiosity, and excitement?

}  Creates a love for learning and a love for a life calling

I can now start with the answer to the last “why” and begin the process again: Why is it important to create a love for learning and a love for a life calling?

This process can help us get beyond platitudes and glittering generalities. It will help us drill down on the reason we do what we do.  Are we just muddling through life in a job, for instance, or do we wake up each morning passionate about the calling that has beckoned us?  The “Five Whys” can help give us that clarity.


Video recommendation for the week:

Enjoy this TED video about how Salman Khan focused on his purpose—and in the process has helped millions of students stay actively engaged in their lessons.

Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

REGISTER NOW for my July 10, 2012 Quick Hits Webinar “P.R.I.D.E.: Five Choices for Life Success.”Click hereor paste this link into your web browser:https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/9q49d/register/1988162557099051008

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please pass it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You can also follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli). Also, if you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Have a wonderful week!


About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in Life's purpose, Passion. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to #111 Why Do You Do What You Do?

  1. Pingback: (#136) A Blogger’s Retrospective: 2012 in Review « Steve Piscitelli's Blog

  2. Pingback: (Issue #586) Good, Not-So Good, and Why (x5) | The Growth and Resilience Network®

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