Long before Simon Sinek revolutionised the way we look at what we do, how we do it, and critically, why we do it (watch the TED Talk here), I had a lightning bolt moment in a high school maths class.
There are very few positive memories from school that really stick out for me, certainly when it comes to inspirations, there weren’t many of them to be found in my big town, big comprehensive high school. It wasn’t a terrible school, I just didn’t find the environment particularly inspiring and more often than not, you feel like cattle herded from one classroom to the next to see the next teacher tasked with educating another oversized class of faceless hormone-laden adolescents.
One moment that has stayed with me however was a year 11 maths lesson. Mr England, our teacher, a man known for being a great teacher with a formidable temper, was leading the lesson when he broke off in response to some trivial question. He launched into a tirade about the importance of understanding the reason behind things when this teacher who must have been in his 60s (at least to my young eyes) starts jumping around in a circle shouting WHY! WHY! WHY! WHY! WHY!
It’s a moment that will stay with me for my entire life. The cheap stud walls of the classroom reverberated as he thundered onto the floor and yelled across the room, WHY!
Everything happens for a reason. Everything we do should be done for a reason and if we’re to live a truly fulfilled life, understanding our “why” is a huge step in the right direction.
Call it your “why”, your Ikigai, your raison d’être, the concept has been around since Socrates spoke “the unexamined life is not worth living”.
Why are we doing what we’re doing?
Why are we helping who we help?
Why does this mean something to us?
These three letters are the foundation of everything.
"He who has a why, can bare almost any how"