Why’s and Wherefore’s


I was talking to my roommate earlier today, and it occurred to me that I’ve never really had to “press through” to achieve a goal, like I am right now.  I’ve always worked hard and focused, but for the most part, success has come fairly readily.  I suspect this may be because I’ve chosen “safe” goals or goals within my “strength zone.”

IMG_7389However, today I’m pursing what Jim Collins calls a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal – and it is proving MUCH more challenging than anything I’ve ever taken on before.  One thing that keeps me going whenever I quit (and I’ve quit several times) is remembering my “why.”


I have just finished a re-read of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, and I’ve been struck by how relevant it is to people at all stages of their journey.  Some of the reflection questions are best suited for people early in their journey, but the content challenged me in ways I didn’t quite anticipate.

I’ve written before about exploring your SHAPE, a concept described in The Purpose Driven Life, and I think understanding my SHAPE has helped me reach success so far.  It has helped me understand, in a personal sense, what God’s plan and design for me is.

In his new book Intentional Living, John Maxwell includes a chapter titled “Search Until You Find Your Why” – talking about understanding your purpose.  He says,

Every person was created to do his or her part to better mankind.  That includes you!

Every person has talents that will help him or her better mankind.  That includes you!

Every person is given an opportunity to better mankind.  That includes you!

Every person has a purpose for which he or she was created.  That includes you!

Every person must look within to discover his or her purpose.  That includes you!

While I believe this to be absolutely true, in the challenges I’m facing today, I’m finding that simply engaging my SHAPE is not quite enough.  I have to go deeper.


A piece of the puzzle that has become more important to me in recent days is understanding my “why.”
The truth is that I could aim my SHAPE at any number of issues, projects, plans, and causes.  While your “why” does overlap with your “Heart” (the H in SHAPE), I am finding that how I’ve defined Heart doesn’t engage my own personal motivations.

IMG_8396I have always externalized my passions – what needs in the world tug at my heart?  This is definitely a place to start, but as I mentioned, it hasn’t provided the staying power I need when achieving a goal that is proving more difficult, and there really are many, many noble causes that tug at me.

In the same chapter, John Maxwell gives three clues to finding your why:

  • What do you cry about?  “What causes so much discomfort that you are motivated to take action and do something to bring healing to that situation?”
  • What do you sing about?  “What makes you jump for joy or spontaneously break into song?”
  • What do you dream about?  “What if you could do something significant, something that would impact others and outlast you?”

These are the questions I’m engaging with today, questions that take me inside, that challenge me to go deeper than I have before.  These are questions that can be very uncomfortable and cause me to be very discontented with where I am and what I am investing my efforts into.

What is your “why”?  What are you doing today to pursue your purpose?



Would you like to know what makes me cry or sing, or what I dream about?  Find My Answers to John Maxwell’s Three “Why” Questions here.

Join the intentional living movement!  Click here to start your 7-day experiment with John Maxwell!

Discovering Your SHAPE – links and resources for exploring the five elements of your SHAPE

A post I wrote about Finding Your Purpose

Authors quoted:

  • Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
  • John Maxwell – Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters
  • Jim Collins – Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies