The Why You Do the Things You Do

Simon Sinek is one of those rare people who find fulfillment at work. According to his numbers, only 10 percent of us do. In a recent interview on Big Think, he says everything changed for him when he stopped focusing on what and how and started focusing on why. He says, “By why, I mean what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief?”  Sinek has written a book about it called Start With Why and approaches his concept from a business leadership perspective.

Now, I haven’t read the book yet, but I am always picking up ideas and tips for self-improvement. And most of that improvement focuses on what and how. How to parent, what to fix for healthy eating, how to stop slicing the ball, what kind of yarn is best for knitting socks, how to improve communications, what to write that sells. But, Sinek reminds me that the why behind all these things is what really matters.

Well, maybe it really doesn’t matter why I want to use a particular kind of sock yarn, but what I believe about being a spouse, parent and writer does.

Particularly now, I am defining the why for myself. Why did I stop working to pursue this dream of writing? Why do I want to write? Those are questions I ask myself almost every day. Certainly on days when I’m stuck on a difficult plot point or have re-read my previous chapter and wonder “what was I thinking?”

But my why is that I believe there is truth in fiction. There are stories that must be told to help us better understand ourselves. And I believe I have a unique way of telling these stories to a new audience. And even in light of the news that comes out everyday about how publishing is dying and nobody can make a living at it, I believe in it enough for now to go on. To write another chapter.

What and How are my tools. Why is the reason to keep at it.

So, what is your why? Think about it, and then share your why in the post’s comments or with a coworker or friend. Stick it on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder and as inspiration to get you through the tough times.


8 comments on “The Why You Do the Things You Do

  1. I never felt I had a choice about writing. It was just something I HAD to do. These stories turned up, the characters wanted to talk, and if I didn’t write them down, I’d go nuts. Luckily I avoided that fate. Ahem. Writing’s the only job I’ve ever loved (although I hate it too, with a burning passion, at my desk) and it would be bliss (and torture) to be able to do only the job I love.

  2. Interesting. I just discovered him today and now have his book in my Kindle.

    I’m a non-fiction author of two books and a career journalist. I write to tell people’s stories and help them understand one another.

    • I started my work life as a journalist. Then went into PR and then HR communications. Now, focusing on helping people understand people through fiction.

      I’m looking forward to reading his book. It will be up after I finish the ones I’m currently reading. I like throwing non-fiction into the mix.

  3. Jenny Hansen says:

    I am a strong believer in WHY and actually can’t work without it. It’s the one sure writer’s block I have – not understanding the Why of something.

    My why: I have stories to tell. I know that each of us is the only one that can tell their stories in exactly the way they need to be told. If we DON’T write them, they will never be shared.

    I wish it was some reason that gave a lightbulb flash but the simple fact is that if I don’t try to tell those stories in my head, I will have missed my life’s purpose.

    • Michele Blaker says:

      I think we all come to our why in different ways. Not everyone gets the flash of light experience. And those who don’t have no less a valid reason than those who do.


  4. Grace Lewis says:

    What a great post, Michele, and not just with reference to writing. Asking why we do what we do seems to be a great way to bring us back to focus on the important things. I’ve typed and deleted about ten times and am still not able to pinpoint why I write the things I write. I’ll have to work on that 🙂

  5. […] It Big and How To Do It by Tahereh Mafi The Good Old Days by Kristen Lamb The Why You Do the Things You Do by Michele […]

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