Most people have at least heard of Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why,’ yet having somehow omitted what is possibly the top business book of the last decade from my reading list, I decided to remedy that while preparing to write this article.
In reading the book, one point that immediately stood out was that founders consistently had a hard time articulating the reason behind the organizations and causes they started. Sinek asserts that this is because the part of the brain associated with why we do things (limbic brain) has absolutely no capacity for language. I thought surely this was overstated or sensationalized for the reader.
I mean, how hard could it be to put my purpose on paper? However, when I sat down to write this article about why I do what I do, I quickly became a believer.
It took me the better part of a month to really dig into why my purpose and practice align. After much deliberation I finally stumbled upon my formula: Personality + Passion + Positioning = Purpose.
When I combined who I am with what I love and where I end up, my purpose emerged. Allow me to dive into each of these individually.
As a child, I remember obsessing over puzzles and problems, books and brain teasers. Nothing motivates me more than someone saying a problem is too hard, or even that it simply cannot be done.
Combining that with an affinity for numbers carried me from arithmetic and algebra to differential geometry, game theory, and cryptography. One thing that it didn’t do (by itself) was lead me into a career that I was passionate about. I needed more. I needed to find something I was passionate about.
What unique skills and tendencies do you possess? Life isn’t always about being well-rounded. Play to your strengths.
Growing up, I played every sport I could get into; first soccer, followed by baseball, basketball and football. Without a doubt, sport was an area of passion.
However, the competition and camaraderie that came from sports didn’t follow me to college and I ended up with a bit of a passion deficit. Luckily, it was around that time that my roommates started a band, which in turn ignited a new passion: music.
Between learning instruments, singing, and songwriting I had found something that moved me in a way that I had never encountered, certainly since my sports career ended. In fact, it’s something I still practice as a worship leader at my church every Sunday.
However, similar to sports my professional music career ended soon after I graduated from college. I was finding part of my purpose but the combination of personality and passion just didn’t paint a complete picture. I needed to get myself into position.
What are the hopes and dreams you have written off? Is there a way you can revive and incorporate those into your current vocation?
As I neared graduation, multiple paths emerged. Would I follow my math degree and become an actuary? Maybe my finance degree would lead me into investment banking. The fact is neither of those routes were appealing to me.
Thankfully, I had taken a chance and applied to the newly formed Music Business Program at the University of Georgia during my junior year. It caused me to take an extra semester to graduate, but I couldn’t bypass the chance to combine my personality and my passions.
In the end, that choice positioned me to take the offer that just made sense: an accounting and business management firm in Atlanta specializing in entertainment and sports was looking for an intern and the owner knew the instructors of the Music Business Program.
Do you need to make a move to get into prime position for your purpose progression? Don’t necessarily think job change; how about a new hobby, learning opportunity, or professional community?
That internship started over ten years ago, in January of 2008. I’ve settled headlining tours, calculated royalties on Grammy-winning albums, analyzed salary cap questions for all-stars, and everything in between. I still obsess over solving problems and adding efficiencies.
I love taking those skills into the industries I’m passionate about and helping those individuals and organizations achieve their dreams. That’s my purpose. That’s why I come to work every morning. Why do you?
Purpose is ever-changing. Don’t worry about the lack of clarity you had yesterday. What can you do to pursue that purpose today?