Nietzsche said, “A person who has a Why can deal with any How.”
I love what Dr. Doug Hirschhorn, who coaches portfolio managers at elite hedge funds, says: "If you don’t understand your core motivation, you won’t know what’s driving your engine, which means that you won’t know what buttons to push to rev up the power you need to take yourself to the next level." That's the level we need to be on to crush a really BIG goal, right?
The #1 key to taking yourself to the next level is to stop asking yourself How? The reason most people go through life with big dreams but fail to achieve them is because they ask themselves "How" before they know their Why.
How am I going to grow my business?
How am I going to get that promotion?
How am I going to sell $________?
How can I get more work done in less time?
How can I double my income?
Those questions are no different from asking yourself:
How am I going to lose 25 pounds? (I lost 25 lbs last year and kept it off, and while I will save that story for another blog, it started with my the very same principles I am writing about here)
How am I going to get everything done?
How am I going to gain the support of my family, spouse, team, etc?
What happens when you ask yourself those How questions? Do you feel more energized and determined, or do you begin to worry and fear that you can't or won't be successful? How is a question that's bound to bring up negative feelings. Instead of getting you excited, it leaves you deflated. For most people, when they get deflated, they simply stop trying. But the best performers have broken the code. They learn how to control their fears and emotions so that they can put their Why to work and improve their performance. You can do it too. But first you need to figure out what your Why really is.
What's your Why?
Make a list of reasons Why accomplishing this goal matters to you. Why are you doing it? Why do you want to be great? The longer your list the better, but you need one or two core reasons Why. I've seen lists of over 100 reasons Why someone felt achieving their goal or dream was important to them. Feel free to include all the positive short term and long term changes that will happen when you achieve your goal.
Why's can be things like: income, future promotions, the impact on your confidence, proving you are capable of anything you put your mind to, or increasing your capacity now to make future goals and actions seem more attainable. Or they can have an even deeper meaning. I've had people tell me, "I'm donating 20% of my earnings to ___ charity." or "It will change the trajectory of my financial future which will allow me to provide my children with the things I was never able to have." or "I'm doing this for my Grandmother who just passed away. She would have been so proud."
Some people like to print each Why on an 8.5 X 11 piece of paper and post them all over their home and car as a constant reminder of why they are working so hard. That's powerful indeed. And a great way to get others involved in your mission. Regardless of how you do it, you need to keep that list where you can see it everyday. Especially, right after a tough day or right before an important activity.
The bottom line is, Why will motivate you to succeed. Why will keep you going when you get frustrated. Why will keep you energized instead of succumbing to fear or fatigue. Why will push you to continue when others are telling you to give up. “Anyone can give up; it is the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone would expect you to fall apart, now that is true strength.” ― Chris Bradford, The Way of the Sword.
Why it Works
There is no secret that those top producing "crushing life" types are attempting to keep from you. It's a matter of perspective. Knowing Why you want to do something shifts your perspective from negative to positive. Instead of getting that sinking feeling in your gut because you're asking, "How am I ever going to do all the work needed to achieve my goal?", you'll be energized by knowing, "I need to do this because..."
Once you totally engage with your Why, your mind and body will work in tandem to figure out how. "Knowing Why takes you from wanting or wishing to willing; from desire to execution." says Hirschhorn. "To get to the next level you need to put yourself on the line, commit wholeheartedly to the process, and do whatever it takes to make it happen. It takes discipline, commitment, determination, a willingness to take risks – and most important of all, a structure and a plan."
While Others Hesitate, Winners Activate
For our sales people, when they go after a really BIG goal, it's morning phone time and all day "phone jams" (it's much more fun to call it a phone jam, trust me). They do this with their team leader and their top peers. Champions are constantly looking for ways to improve, so they surround themselves with like minded people. When they hear things like "status quo" it feels like a hammer to the head. Champions know to feed their minds good stuff. They are constantly reading, watching videos and listening to audios that stimulate growth. They will do just about anything, make whatever sacrifices they have to make, because anything less than giving their very best is unacceptable. Imagine maintaining that level of intensity every day of your life. That’s what makes those at the top in any field so extraordinary. It's that something extra they give to everything they do. As David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, said, “The great secret about goals and visions is not the future they describe but the change in the present they engender.”
The most amazing part of that is that it’s a conscious choice. Peak performers choose growth over remaining average every time. But that same choice is also yours to make. The key is to find whatever motivates you and keeps you on track. i.e. Your WHY
If you really want to achieve greatness, hit that BIG goal, be a top performer, you absolutely without question have to leave it on the field. I love how Paid to Exist blogger Jonathan Mead defines leaving it on the field: "Don’t end the game feeling like you could have given more. Don’t leave feeling like you played it safe when you had the opportunity for something greater. If you give everything, there will be no question about what you could or might have done."
Got a BIG goal? Make your Why list today. You'll figure out How. Now is the time to crush it! So, now that you know where to start, what are you going to do?
Also, check out the book. This is way more than your average, cookie-cutter book on how to write a résumé and find a job.
It’s a personal journey of discovery that I hope will inform, inspire, and empower. I’ve been sharing my journey for more than twenty years with small groups of college-aged men and women, showing them how to get a head start on their professional and business lives and have fun doing it.
From to how to deal with rejection, it's all here in this breezy, fun tutorial on the essentials that will give you an edge when you head out to start your full-time career. Proceeds go to a great charity, Children's Dyslexia Centers.