It’s About Your “Why”

When pursuing a creative career, the temptation to achieve greatness or excellence can be alluring we can’t resist.

Nothing’s wrong with that.

Truth is, I’d be happy if I become a great writer and musician. Maybe you would be happy too. But I’m afraid… we both have problems.

The problem is we don’t really understand why we strive for greatness or excellence (or even professionalism) in our careers.

Most people fail to understand. They only do it because they see their heroes live that way. Or because it feels like it’s the path to success or the right thing to do. Is it? I don’t know.

Again, nothing’s wrong with aiming for excellence or greatness. I believe it has its advantages. But I am more concerned about the why. Why are we doing it? 

I mean, what’s the point of working hard or sacrificing or pursuing greatness or excellence if we don’t know our why — our main purpose?

If you’re a musician and your “why” is to write songs that can move people, then that’s great. Focus on your why.

If you’re a writer and your “why” is to craft stories that can inspire people, that’s great too. Focus on your why.

Because in everything we do, it’s the “why” that matters. Anything that happens next is just a byproduct.

We become excellent by pursuing our why. We become great by pursuing our why. And we become professionals by pursuing our why.

Our “why” is our main thing, our mission. Don’t get sidetracked.

Greatness and excellence and success are the results of doing our why. They are not the goal.

I don’t know, but every time I shift my attention to my why — which is to grow, do what I love, provide value, and make the world a better place — everything makes sense. My creative endeavors become meaningful and worth pursuing. It gives me a bigger sense of purpose.

You don’t have to agree, but you can try. Because honestly, it feels good inside when you focus more on your why.

In the words of bestselling author Simon Sinek, 

“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year. Those who forget WHY they were founded show up to the race every day to outdo someone else instead of to outdo themselves. The pursuit, for those who lose sight of WHY they are running the race, is for the medal or to beat someone else.”

Questions to ponder: What motivates you to pursue a creative career? Is it a desire to boost your identity, get ahead, and impress people? Or a desire to pursue your big why?

Why are you doing it?