Finding your why means understanding the principles.
Have you ever wondered how far out we could go in space? Have you ever thought about how small an atom is? Principles are often like these questions, simple and yet considerably complex at the same time. The principles of the English language are the parts of speech. The principles of most religions are the feeling of something more powerful than what we can fathom.
Context is very similar and is a bit more precise when defining the lessons a principle teaches. The context of the situation answers the question “Why do I need to give this attention?”. While the context of the principles is important to follow, what you do while you’re following is determined by what content you choose to produce and consume.
The content of the content rapidly changes. Methods, same as content, are many, while the principles are few. The point here is that the technicalities of what we do are under constant revision, while why we do things is relatively universal, and stands the test of time. If you wake up each morning just to get to the weekend, you most likely dread working. If that is the case, how long are you going to go through that cycle, just to survive?
A friend of mine told me today that when he was my age, all he was focused on was surviving. Now that he has a family, he not only wants to survive but thrive in all areas of his life. While our goals change as we get older, it is important to note that there is hardly ever a “Right time” to do the right thing. If it’s uncomfortable, this is probably an indicator that something needs to change. Find your why, and your purpose will become clearer.
Who you help and how you do that requires clarity.
Defining who you are serving is extremely important to your business, career, and any other aspects of your life. It is noble to say “I want to help people.” but that doesn’t do much for the world. What age are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? Why are you interested in helping these specific people? Why don’t you help the others? Asking these questions will help you narrow down who you help, and allow you do it more effectively.
Why do they need your help? What are they struggling with that they aren’t currently helping themselves with? Sometimes people need to open their eyes a bit to fix their problems. Other times, they need someone to walk beside them for a while or point them in the right direction. Be careful though, that you are helping them fix the source and not the symptoms. The symptoms are the result of the source and will continue to manifest if the source is not dealt with.
Often what the person is complaining about, or what their first response to a problem, is not the true cause. Dig deeper, ask more complex (or extremely simple) questions, and read their body language. According to the book “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss says that 7% of what we say is based on words, 38% based on the tone of voice, and 55% based on body language. Think about this next time someone has their arms crossed or their eyes dart back and forth.
What’s most important about who you are helping, and how you do it, is that when you are done helping these people, you leave them better than when you entered their lives. The goal of helping others should be to equip them to help themselves, so the problems that were solved in your presence no longer require you. This way, you can go on to help more people, and fix new issues.
What you do is dynamic and always growing.
As stated in the first section, the principles of what you do will rarely change. The methods attached to those principles, however, will change often, and they should. The world is always moving, growing, adapting, eliminating, and adding. For techniques, model what others are doing in your area(s) of interest. Write out what you need to do, I have found whiteboards to be very handy with this.
Ask lots of questions, and especially ask yourself how and where you can improve, as your opinion will always be the final decider (even if you allow others to influence your decisions, it is still you who decided to listen to them). A key point here is to not hold on to what fads and trends go out. Gary Vaynerchuk once mentioned to “Plant your flag and wait for the world to come to you.”
Whether your love in life is golf, making moccasins, painting, speaking, doing calculus (I applaud you) or any other number of things, the world will change. It is better to start and fail now than to never start at all. Failure is a necessity, and it is where we learn to improve, innovate, and make the world a better place.
Your unique abilities and talents are also actions that can bring value to others. Find the needs of those around you, and help them in whatever way you can. Learn and listen to those who not only have your best interests in mind but have the attitude and lifestyle that you aspire to have. Always ask questions, and always grow, inside and out.