Excavating Your Big Why

HappyToday we recorded the next episode of our podcast which goes live this Friday, 20th February 2014. Client challenge of the week concerns Excavating Your Big Why. Several of my clients are grappling with this right now which is why I thought it might be helpful to bring it to my discussion with Nicola, and for us to explore it together.

It is my belief, which means it is true for me but not necessarily for all of my clients, that we all know – Deep Down – what we would love to be doing. Call it Your Big Why if you want, or your Life Purpose, or What Makes You Really, Really Happy.

Some of my clients disagree, they tell me they really don’t know. Fair enough, I do believe them, they are a truthful lot. In fact my rather (uncharacteristically) coachy questions in this area give them the heebie jeebies and I can see why, honestly I can. If you think you don’t know the answer to something, then you don’t know the answer and no amount of my continuing to ask you is going to make any difference, and that’s all there is to it. Arms folded across your body in protection and rebellion.

Why it is my belief, in the face of some dissention, is because of the sheer number of callers who eventually say to me “Of course, what I REALLY want to do is…” and then they share the secret of their innermost heart. As I’ve reported here before, they usually say it after 50 minutes of our introductory hour, once they trust me, once rapport has been established. They are “the norm” which teaches me about 99% of us.

What I also believe is that one of the reasons for our precious secret being quite so deeply buried is that for as long as we daren’t give name to it, it’s safe down there. What if we say it out loud, gave it life, allow it out of the bag and it didn’t help, or we failed with it or something worse, then that would just be too terrible to contemplate, wouldn’t it? Shattered dreams. Awful. At least for as long as it remains buried secretly in the dark, there is a faint glimmer of hope. One day. This may be our sub-conscious looking after us, keeping us “safe”, by the way.

It’s not just Your Big Why. It’s also your Niche. And your Life Purpose. These are capitalised to give nod to the importance we place upon them, which often brings with it unnecessary stressors which also encourage us to keep them all deeply buried. But as I discovered with Michael Neill and Robert Holden, when one of my friends/clients/colleagues went on stage with her request for their guidance to help her find her Life Purpose, they told her that she’s already living it; we all are, we just haven’t seen it in plain sight yet though it may be obvious to quite a lot of those around us.

And coaches are encouraged to find a niche. Oh boy, is there resistance to that. Until you allow it to find you. And that would be my advice for all of this. However impatient you are, Your Big Why, Your Life Purpose and your Niche are already in your awareness, you are living them to a greater or lesser extent. Abide. Be patient. Allow. Allow the supremely obvious to land, and to find you.

Meanwhile go about your life, doing what you love and plenty of it. Allow space. Ask others what they see you doing and being and loving. Notice when you are happy, what are you doing?

I had a boyfriend once and yes, OK, I was happy when I was with him, but the one thing I noticed was that the next day I would find myself humming. Bit of a clue there, Judith, Old Love. Look for those clues in your own life. What makes you happy, for no reason at all? Your Big Why is in there somewhere.

Allow Your Big Why to come home to you and, like my Niche, it will be so obvious you will wonder why you were being so obtuse about it. It was so obvious, it was only you who couldn’t see it.

So, in this context, I went Googling to see if there are any handy resources I could recommend, or books perhaps. We all love to answer questions about ourselves in workbooks and take online quizzes. Is there a process we can put ourselves through to help with the excavation? I couldn’t find a book on Amazon (perhaps I’d better write it?) but I did find a very helpful article by Peter Hutton, CEO of Agent Brand Co. Peter talks a lot of sense.

Here’s an excerpt. I hope it’s helpful. He’s talking to real estate agents. Assuming you are not one, though you may be for all I know, knock out the industry specific stuff and it still works fabulously well.  Peter and I agree on much – finding your joy, allowing the magic to happen, passion, excitement, optimism, heart, resonance, authenticity, values, belief and personal brand.

“Here Are 5 Ways You Can Find Your ‘BIG WHY’…by Peter Hutton

(1) — Intrinsic Motivation:- this is basically the opposite of ‘carrot and stick’ motivation or ‘external motivation’. Intrinsic motivation is about doing something, like an activity, for its own sake. The activity is its own reward. The key here is to find joy in doing the task. One way is to set goals around learning. And getting better at various aspects of your job. Set challenges around activity. When you discover your unique intrinsic motivation you’ll notice an extra drive and energy to do the job.  The magic happens when you find the ‘why’ in your regular activities.

(2) — Mission & Vision:- we all know that great brands, great business have a clear mission and vision. The same goes for personal-brands. Your “BIG WHY” can simply be your mission. Again, the trick here is making sure your mission / vision is ‘intrinsically motivated’. If you have a mission which is about getting you something else, you may want to reconsider that. Your mission must stand on its own. You must want it for it alone and not for what achieving the mission will give you.  Here are some tips…

  • Write a short and sharp personal mission statement – one you are willing to share.
  • Your mission should be an exacting match of your opportunities, competencies & commitment.
  • Your mission also guides you in what NOT to do

(3) — Passion:- Oprah rightfully said this about passion… “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Passion does excite us. It keeps us focused. It helps us to wake up on a cold morning with a sense of excitement and optimism that’s infectious. Ask yourself…

  • What does your heart want?
  • What did you like to do when you were a child?
  • Brainstorm a list – ‘What’s my passion?’
  • What are you secretly afraid of doing but want to do? What comes easy to you?

(4) — Personal Resonance:- OK this a biggie. Your personal resonance is indeed the power of ‘identification and belonging’. Two massive motivators for humans. When you are truly authentic, your personal resonance is like a candle to a moth. People are drawn to likeminded people. Like attracts like. So this aspect of your ‘BIG WHY’ is about finding your personal resonance. How you do that is you get clear on your ‘cause’, your ‘values’, your ‘beliefs’ and your ‘purpose in life’.

(5) — Nemesis – all great brands have an opposite:- like Superman has Lex Luthor, the Queensland Maroons have the NSW Blues in the State of Origin, Labor politicians have the Liberals, Mac has PC and so on. The nemesis serves to identify what you don’t want to be. It helps you crystallise what you do want to be. And helps consumers identify you. It helps to differentiate you. Your ‘BIG WHY’ could simply be that you want to be opposite to another personal brand or corporate brand. Don’t underestimate this one, this alone has proven to create cult brands such as Harley Davidson and Apple.

Your ‘BIG WHY’ as I hope you can now see is the thing that is the foundation to your personal brand. It fuels your success.

The great thing about your ‘BIG WHY’ is no one can tell you yours. You have to discover it. You get to make it up.”

Check out that last sentence. “The great thing about Your Big Why is no-one can tell you yours. You have to discover it. You get to make it up.” You get to make it up! Love it!! What could be more fun for an entrepreneur than to make it up?

And to end this piece, here’s my best tip. Take your CV (the bits of it which interest you and are in your soul) and your life experience to date and the things you love and write them all down. Swish them all around, check where they cross over. For instance, I was an accountant for twenty years, I don’t want to be one any more but despite taking the girl out of accountancy, you can’t take accountancy out of this girl completely, neither would I want you to do that. So one of my loves is for the neatness of maths, understanding how business makes sense from a financial perspective. And that’s in my Niche too.

There’s a Venn diagram opportunity here (not that keen on those myself, jargony) but there’s a sweet spot where these three cross over, your work experience, your life experience and all the things you love, however disparate they may seem to be.

What do you love to do even if you can’t see the business in it yet? Especially if you can’t see the business in it.  That’s my job, helping you turn it into a business which you will love, without killing off the very thing which makes it lovable.

Don’t force it. Allow it. Make it up.

Don’t over-think it – get out and about and discover it. Let it discover you. Take your time.

Be creative – do stuff you love – exercise, arty stuff, dancing, photography, dog-walking, sketching, making music, walking, cycling, swimming, reading, writing, arithmetic. Get out of your head and into your heart.

What is it that you can’t wait to do again?

Let Your Big Why find you. Relax. Do stuff you love. Notice what you are doing that you love. Look for clues.

Notice when you start feeling happy for no reason at all.

Notice when you start to hum.

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