When You Lose Your WHY
Around the age of three, children seem programmed to ask “WHY?” for just about anything:
“Why is the sky blue?”
“Why do doggies go around in circles?”
“Why do bubbles float?”
You get the idea. Our first adventure with the word “WHY” is for seeking answers to what seems so mysterious about the world around us.
In our teens, “WHY” seems to be the question for challenging rules and authority:
“Why do I have to be home at 11pm?”
“Why can’t I wear this? Everybody does!”
“Why can’t I go out on a school night?”
But once we enter the adult world of work, “WHY” can often be encumbered with the outward signs of success. Here is the story of Dan Dominguez:
"I was the Western US Director of Sales for one of the most successful medical device companies in the world. A big shot but at a cost. I was spending 2-3 weeks a month on the road and sleeping in hotel rooms instead of my own bed. I was at corporate headquarters for entire weeks of leadership meetings and visiting key clients on the other weeks.
And despite all that, we were trending to miss our quota number for the first time in my sales leadership career. I remember spending late nights in my home office trying to figure out the latest excel formula that our leader had developed, thinking that the solution was somewhere in a spreadsheet.
So, I worked harder. I spent valuable time analyzing numbers and trends, forecasts and funnels, and sales processes but something wasn’t right. I made the tough decision to leave my job and find something that was fulfilling and provided me the meaning and lifestyle for which I was searching.
But what could that be? I realized that I had forgotten that for 25 years, I’d been a successful sales producer and sales leader by doing one thing – taking care of people! I had always helped my teams achieve their goals by listening to them and ensuring they had the tools to do their job successfully. I remember trying to help as many people as I could, and to be there for everyone at work and in my community – though often neglecting the most important people in my life - my wife and daughters. That had to change, too.
In short, I was not living up to my purpose in life.
Dr. Gary Sanchez, founder of The WHY Institute, helped me discover my purpose. When I learned that my WHY was to contribute to the success of others, to make a positive impact in their lives and make a difference, it changed my life. This newfound self-awareness made it clear that my old position was not right for me because it was no longer in line with my WHY. When I lost the ability to lead by helping others succeed, when numbers became more important than people, and when I didn’t feel I could make a difference in the lives of others via my leadership, I was no longer living within my WHY."
The good news for Dan—he is now the Chief Growth Officer for The WHY Institute! He is contributing to the success of others by helping folks discover their WHY and gain the life-changing clarity he found. Serendipity to be sure.
Full disclosure: I met Dan because my research has convinced me that a lack of purpose contributes to burnout. I became certified in their Discovery process so I could help clients clarify not only their WHY but how it shows up in the world with what they do.
Perhaps I can help you.
I believe that inspiring people to unleash the energy that brings their best selves forward is my calling in life. How I do this is by offering a better way to craft work and life by design and not default. What I bring is a simple way to build resilience, inspire hope, and find joy in the process.