My Why

December 24th, 2011 — 5:30am

This year is almost in the books. I’m very thankful for the remarkable business success and transforming personal growth I’ve experienced this year. I’ve reached milestone business and personal goals that a few years ago I thought might take a lifetime.

This leaves me asking “What next?” and that leads me to deep questions about why I do what I do. Being really honest with myself, why do I get out of bed every morning? What worthwhile thing motivates me to work hard, deal with unpleasant situations, and take frightening risks?

I wasn’t always aware of it, but almost every day of my adult life I got out of bed in the morning because I urgently needed something. I needed to believe that I was a competent person doing a good job on my work. I urgently and intensely focused ever fiber of my being on trying to make that come true.

I was good at it. I experienced a string of extraordinary successes in my work. I was genuinely grateful for every success, not feeling entitled to it at all. In spite of all the over-the-top results, I still needed to believe that I was a competent person doing a good job on my work, and deep down I still didn’t believe it. This gave me a compelling reason to get out of bed every morning.

This year tectonic plates have shifted in me. Through the influence of generous people investing their time into me, I have received what I needed. It took a lot and it took a long time. Now that I have it, I can see how much the pursuit of it has been the driving force of my daily life. Oddly as it sounds, it left me for a few weeks without a clear answer to why I should get out of bed in the morning. I was so used to spending my days chasing that need, I had never needed an alternate source of motivation. This limbo was surprisingly unsettling. I was afraid I’d lose my drive and passion without this need urging me forward.

It been a lot to think through, but it’s starting to come clear.

My new “why” is less urgent and more free. It involves time to take in and enjoy good things, time I didn’t think I could spare before. It involves less fear and more joy. It includes even more ambition than before, ambition to live all the way up to my potential and accomplish significant things. Perhaps most importantly, it’s about living deliberately to impact people like those generous people impacted me. Here’s to paying it forward.