Geoff Reese is a life coach who hosts a podcast called Wake Up Your Why. Back in July 1993, hejoined a company as a copier salesman. He had recently left a private practice as a psychotherapist and wondered, "What in the world did I do? Am I the one who needs therapy? Leaving my private practice to peddle copiers from office to office?"
But Geoff had a plan. Much like my old plan that failed, his plan was to enter the lower ranks of a major corporation and work up the ladder to be a motivational trainer in human resources.
The wake-up call.
After quickly realizing that he was the worst salesperson in the history of the company, he knew he had to resign. When he went into his boss's office to quit, there was a strange creaking noise coming from above. As both of them looked up, a trash can full of water crashed straight through the ceiling. Inches away from hitting Geoff, the trash can fell at his feet, exploded, and drenched him in water.
Shocked and thinking it was some prank, Geoff took it as a sign that he needed to get out of there as soon as possible.
Discovering your purpose.
Geoff did not know what a "why" was at that time, but he did know he was born with a purpose -- a specific gift to accomplish something. He did not want to be just be another statistic, another dead body in the cemetery who never pursued his dreams.
Geoff believes we are all born with a seed of genius meant to impact the world.
"You either become what you were created to be, seeing the reality of your purpose and contribution to the world, or you ponder them as missed opportunities at life's end."
Aristotle's great theory.
Geoff came to the realization of a "why" when he learned about teleology. It's a concept first developed by Aristotle. The basic definition of teleology is the existence of purpose and cause in the universe: "The fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose."
The theory identifies motion. There is nothing stagnant. The universe and all in it has moves toward an end result.
If that's true, then there's a meaning and a purpose for you because you are in a universe with purpose in motion to an end result.
The question is, if the universe is in motion with a purpose, then what is your purpose? What is your "why"?
The "why" spoken of here is the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do.
Stress versus passion.
Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, says: "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion."
Do you care about your work? Do you have a purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to live?
The late Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and the author of Man's Search for Meaning. His survival was in large part due to his belief that we can find meaning in everything, even suffering. We can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward.
It's our personal meaning of life that inspires us and what kept Viktor alive: "I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, 'homeostasis'--i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."
To get closer to discovering your "why," Geoff recommends that you ask yourself these three questions:
1. What do I feel deeply inspired by?
Make a list of everything you can think of that inspires you. Think of them as activities you get "lost" in. What brings you joy? What is it that you can't wait to get out of bed for?
2. What am I particularly talented at?
Yes, you have some talent. This is no time to be humble. List them all out. Right now your brain will say, "I don't have any talents." I'm telling you, "Yes you do."
3. What meets a significant need in my world?
There's so much energy created in you when there's something bigger than yourself to serve. I know that your talent, when acted on, can impact someone in a positive way.
Geoff believes that a lot of people don't give themselves permission to be all that they can be. His challenge to you is this: Give yourself permission to do something extraordinary.