In a recent post, How Morning Affirmations Help You Take on the Impossible, I referenced the story of Colin O’Brady who, to many’s amazement, accomplished the incredible feat of walking solo across Antarctica. As Colin shared his story, he spoke of his purpose, wanting to do something bigger than himself and inspiring others to take on the impossible in their lives. In the news coverage I’ve seen of this event, his statement of why this was a goal of his was glossed over and barely acknowledged. Yet, when you take in the scope of great successes by Colin or anyone else who has accomplished something great, you are sure to find a strong purpose, a WHY, at the core.
Danny Bauer kicks off his book, The Better Leaders Better Schools Roadmap, by delving into “The Soul of a School Leader.” He references Seth Godin‘s manifesto which answers the two questions,
- Why do we do what we do?
- What is school for?
and then ends the chapter with a challenge to answer these questions for yourself. They are, in fact, not just theoretical questions meant to reflect on within the intellectual ether. These two questions are at the heart of any educator’s work and the resulting impact.
Knowing, clarifying, communicating & committing to your WHY is a necessary component to both having an effective team (4 Things That Happen When You Have a Shared WHY) as well as tackling anything worth doing (Let’s Be UNrealistic Together.) My personal WHY grounds me in a way that acts as a filter for how I focus my energy as well as fuel for inspiration when I need it the most.
Ultimately my why along with my core values are much more evident in my actions than the words above, but I’ve found it useful and important to clarify this in writing. As I’ve reflected on and written down my why, I’ve grown stronger in my commitment to what truly drives my work and my WHAT and HOW have become much clearer. I’ve also been able to reference it for myself during those times when things are tough and communicate it to others in way that builds connections and momentum. As Jon Gordon says, “We don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it. Purpose keeps you fresh!”
What is your why? I’d challenge you to reflect and get it in writing. Then, I’d love for you to share your purpose with me either in a reply to this post or tag me on twitter.
Stay tuned for post 2/2 for my answer to the second question, “What is school for?”