The other day I was thinking about the fact that people who want to make a difference usually have a lot of drive and gumption to do things, to make them happen and to have the impact that they so desire to see in the world. They recognize the needs, they know their vision and calling, and they just want to go and do what they feel should be done! (I know because I’m one of them :))
With this busyness and drive to make things happen, the “who” of us and the “why” of what we do can easily get blurry and out of focus. And yet, these two are the most important factors in the equation that leads to sustainable success in our endeavors.
What do I mean by the expression “who”? This is the “real us”. It is our innermost being that has always been with us, is us, and has grown and matured over time – the part of us that we refer to when we say “I”. Part of what makes up the “who” are our values, our beliefs and our purpose for living. It’s our essence! It is where everything starts and the source of our power as human beings. Usually, this is where the desire for making a difference comes from. The “why” is intrinsically connected to the “who”. It indicates the real reason and motive for why we want to do something.
Both the “who” and “why” are where our initial motivation for a project or initiative comes from, what leads us to walk into a certain direction and what keeps us going when setbacks arise or when the vision gets blurred. They are the only thing that can truly keep us grounded in the midst of all the busyness and messiness of working on projects that aim to have a positive impact. This is why giving ourselves space and time for recognizing, nurturing and tapping into the “who” and the “why” is so very important and powerful.
Working with difference makers on a regular basis, I’ve seen it many times: People have such a strong desire to make a difference and to see their vision become a reality that they push as hard as they can. They want to keep going until they finally reach that “promised land” of their dream come true – that project, that mission established and running!
And yet, in the process, they often realize that something is missing. In all their “pushing” they run out of strength and motivation, get stressed or frustrated, and the whole endeavor doesn’t turn out to be as fulfilling as they anticipated it be.
When this happens, going back to the foundation of who they are as a person and why they started that certain endeavor or project works wonders. I’ve seen it work like a magic potion that infuses new life, energy, motivation and purpose. It’s like connecting to the power source!
Just recently I’ve experienced it myself: After having gone through a prolonged period of time in which I pushed hard to get things done, I hit a low point where I felt pretty exhausted. The work I usually love so much felt meaningless and empty to me. I felt burned out, unfulfilled and I had no energy left. My usually exciting work seemed more like a drag than a joy. At first, I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling that way. Then it slowly dawned on me: In my running here and there, trying to get things done, implementing new ideas and a lot of things piling up on my to-do list, the true purpose and reason for why I was doing things had gotten buried along the way. I realized I had to stop and reconnect. Remembering what my work was all about, why I had started it and how it deeply resonated with who I was got me slowly back on track. I realized that it wasn’t about how much I was doing or how fast I was running around to get things done, but that it was about focusing on the few things that were best aligned with the “why” and the “who” of me. Boy, did that time of reconnection help me breathe again! I could feel new energy and inspiration bubbling up from within, ideas and solutions I hadn’t thought of came flooding in, and joy and excitement for what I was doing were restored. Honestly, without tapping into the power source of reconnection I don’t think I could have continued for long, not to mention that the quality of my work would have definitely suffered, too. I’ve determined that I’m going to learn from it and recognize it earlier next time I’m tempted to speed things up and go on without being truly centered.
I’m curious about you:
What’s your reason for doing the things that you do as a difference maker?
What made them meaningful to you in the first place?
How did they resonate with your inner being when first making the decision to act on what you were feeling called to do?