#3 But Why?
As I continue to evangelize the power of Purpose
I have one more intro post drafted, but I wanted to get to being useful, so let’s talk about Purpose and we’ll get back to introductions next week. (Folks, I’m impatient).
The most powerful question any of us can ask of ourselves and our stories is “why?”
Why does it need to exist? Why is this the job you want to spend your days doing? Why is this the business that needs to be built? Why do I want to create this thing? Why is this story worth sharing?
But it’s not something you ask once and sit with the answer forevermore. Instead, why is a question you need to live with and incorporate into what you do. And use it as a tool to mine what matters to you, or your business or whatever it is you’re creating. Because it leads to purpose and purpose is one of the most powerful foundational elements of a good story. It gives you good reason for being, for doing, or for trying.
A few people receiving this letter know me professionally, which means they know how obsessed I am with capital “p” Purpose. I think it unlocks brands, businesses, and lives. It also grounds you and helps you start to put together a through line or a plan to bring your story or idea to life.
In my work as a brand strategist I define purpose as, what a brand chooses to stand for (because it is a choice)—identifying its essential reason for being. That same definition can be used to help you bring to life your stories, and you get to it by asking “why?”
Fill in the blank: This story exists to ____________________.
I don’t want you to get existential with it (down that path lies madness), but I want you to use it as a tool to help guide your efforts in creation. It can help you make good choices in your business or other creative efforts. Use it to measure decisions and how to create or take advantage of opportunities, by simply asking yourself does this help me fulfill my Purpose?
But remember, the answer to that most-important question of “why?” is rarely fixed. It changes and evolves with you and whatever you have set your ambitions to. So, keep asking it and using the answers to guide you.
If you’re really interested in this idea and want to learn more, the person who put words to this very universal idea is Simon Sinek. He brings it to life clearly and precisely (clarity is a masters tool in storytelling) in this TED Talk. He goes into more detail in his book on the topic. Both are great references for any great storyteller (that’s you, or what you’re working toward).
I hope this serves as you begin to tell your story. If you’ve enjoyed or know someone who might find value in it, please share.
Some words from Chadwick Boseman on purpose that made me think of your post: