It’s a question I hear frequently as the parent of two kids under the ages of 6. I can’t say that I particularly welcome it.
“Why” is also a question that I’ve been trained NOT to ask people when I am coaching them. Reportedly, it puts them on the defensive. (“Why did you decide that?” as opposed to “What were some of the considerations that went into your decision?”)
What is your “Why”? By this I mean: what you believe in, what motivates you, what fuels your action in the world, at work, at home. Knowing your “Why” — being able to articulate and explain it, and being able to recognize when your work is aligned with it — can be extremely powerful. In fact, I’d say that it’s critical to having a job and career that you love.
Often when we start a new job, particularly in fields like aid and development, we are motivated by a specific “Why.” We believe in the cause behind our jobs, and the organization that employs us. We want to to make a difference, have an impact, contribute to something we believe in. It’s easy to know our “Why.”
Yet our “Why” can become buried amidst the business (and busyness) of work. There are reports to write, budgets to defend, staff to coach, projects to manage, proposals to draft, applications to evaluate. Not to mention the hundreds of emails, endless hours spent in meetings and conference calls, and the demands of business travel.