It’s easy to overlook this question. Many of us kind of fall into what we’re doing, whether we’re running our own business or in an employed role. We found something we were good at, we could get a job doing, or people were prepared to hire us for – and we just stuck with it.
But if you’re clear on why you’re really doing something, why it’s important and meaningful to you, how it contributes to your life, why you chose to do it, then you’re going to be happy.
If you don’t, then really you’re just flapping around.
Now typically, most people’s initial answer to why they’re doing what they’re doing is for their family, their loved ones.
That’s important of course. For very many people, providing for their family and building a better life for them is why they have a job or run a business in the first place.
But it’s not why they have that specific job or run that specific business. It’s not why they choose to do one thing rather than another.
That’s what this question is all about: why are you doing the specific thing you’re doing?
Because, if you fall into the trap of just thinking, “I’m doing this for my family.” You slide into another trap which is, “Well, I have to work all these hours. I have to drive myself into the ground. I can’t go to the children’s events tonight because I got to do and earn money because I’m doing these all for you.” That’s not the why, and it’s not something your family would want you to do anyway.
In The Last Webinar Mike explained his “why” and how he figured out what it was.
Initially he started his own business with his business partner Vernon for all the wrong reasons. Their “why” at that point was to get away from a corporate job they were both unhappy with.
Mike was very successful in corporate life. He followed a traditional career path: he got a computing degree, went to work for a computer company, climbed the ranks, got on the senior management track and was earning a very good living
But it was just at the point where he got offered a huge promotion that he jumped ship to set up his own business.
In Mike’s words: “I just got fed up of working for idiots and seeing idiots being promoted by bigger idiots, the senior idiots. Usually because those idiots had sucked up to the senior idiots. That’s what you get the higher up you go corporate life. The bigger the corporate, the dumber it is. The more stupid they get, the higher they get up.”
So Mike didn’t jump in to being an entrepreneur, he jumped out of corporate life. That’s not really the best way to do it, but it’s a very common route for many people.
In Mike’s case, he had absolutely no idea about how to run a business and what being an entrepreneur meant. He just really thought, “I’ve tried corporate life. This is the opposite. I’m going to do it.”
Michael Gerber talks about this in his book,the E-Myth as it’s a very common path. Many people working in business think “I’m good at this, so I’m going to run a business doing it because I can make all the money. Why should someone else make all the money from this when I’m the expert?”
But as Gerber points out, being an expert most certainly doesn’t make you an entrepreneur or business person. That was Mike’s first big learning.
So Mike and Vernon’s business was selling software and he started to get into Internet Marketing to market their business. And he realised that actually he was quite good at it.
And through networking groups that he joined he started helping other small businesses, what he called “the little guy” (including both men and women of course).
These were people of about Mike’s age who had businesses that were doing OK, but the internet had arrived on the scene and they were confused and quite frankly a little frightened by it. He knew he could help them and could talk their language – unlike the trendy young things beating them over then head telling them they needed to tweet and share or all the other stuff that was going on.
He found he really enjoyed working with this sort of person and helping them. And, that started to become his why.
Eventually, Mike’s why became that he wanted to help small business owners really embrace the Internet and make it work for them. And he wanted to show them there were people out there who weren’t sharks. Who weren’t just going to take the money and run. That there were genuinely good people out there who could really help them grow their business through the Internet.
And so, that was how his why started to develop. That’s what motivated him to get up in the morning. It wasn’t just to put food on the table for his family, though that was important. His why was to serve that community of small business owners and help the succeed online.
When you get your why right and you’re living it; so in Mike’s case serving the small business community and really giving of himself; then your work has a purpose and suddenly you love doing the work because you’re doing it for that why.
The key to happiness and fulfilment in business, Mike realised, was to enjoy the journey, not just look forward to the destination. And that starts by having a powerful “why”. Something to motivate you and that you can feel good about working on every day.