The Why Behind the Who

Who are you? Where do you let this show? What lies are holding you back?

We wear masks for so many reasons. Maybe we don't want to be embarrassed. Maybe we want to avoid a conversation about how we are really doing. Maybe we don't want to talk about that thing that secretly shames us.

Masks can hep us get what we want right now, but there's a problem. Masks do two things: they bar us from deeper relationship, and they weigh us down.

In a relationship, there is only so far you can get before vulnerability is necessary for growth. Sure, you can maintain a relationship without honesty and vulnerability, but it's certainly not going to get any deeper. True relationship comes from sharing the hard things and feeling understood through it.

Wearing a mask implies a lie, that we are covering who we really are with a disguise. This gets heavy. Our true self tries to come out under that mask and it can be difficult to push down.

At the same time, there is a lot of danger in keeping a mask in that sometimes we forget that who we are is not that mask. This can cause some major identity crisis. Not knowing who you are can be one of the most hopeless feelings and sometimes takes a long time to figure out.

We function best when we feel seen and understood. If you're wearing a mask, can you really be either of these things? Taking off the mask may be the most important piece of living an authentic, successful life.

Why are we talking about this? What does wearing a mask have to do with one's capacity to lead?

It's been found that one of the most driving factors of a person's success is their knowledge of why they do what they do. Simon Sinek gave a powerful talk on this and he called it "the why." 

Why do you do what you do?

As is well known, the road to success is not easy. Failures come along the way. Obstacles rise. Challenges develop. Sometimes we stand in our own way, sometimes others stand in our way, and sometimes no one can control the road blocks that come.

Point blank: success is hard.

A lot of times, when people get to their challenges or hard times, they get scared, feel defeated, and even give up. Why? Because the focus is now on "what" they're doing, not on "why" they're doing it. 

Your why is important when it comes to perseverance. It's what gets you through when just doing it isn't enough. Without your why, there doesn't seem to be a point. But if you know your why before you start, then you can keep pushing into the face of adversity. 

In order to know your why, you have to know yourself. What makes you passionate? What gets you excited to live? What problems in this world do you care about? How do you react to negativity? How do you celebrate success?

It is who we are that shapes why we live the way we do. Doesn't it make sense, then, that who we are determines how and why we go about chasing dreams?

You might not know your why. I certainly didn't before I sat down and thought about it. I had no idea where to start, but I used this resource to get my brain rolling. And, for an example, I'm sharing my why with you:

“I believe in designing an excellent and energizing life. I believe in helping others learn how to do the same. An excellent life is one of freedom, inspiration, thriving, and giving.”

After spending an hour thinking about what makes me happy, passionate, and motivated, this is what I came up with. So when life hits, if I remember this, it can help me climb the hills. I might experience a set back, but if I realize I am not doing what I'm doing purely for success, but because I desire to design an excellent life and help others do the same, I can keep working.

Take time to figure out your why Your why can be broad or it can be really specific, but it needs to be honest and it needs to be complete with an understanding of who you are. If you can understand this one concept, you have already created for yourself an amazing foundation to build your success on.

Here's the challenging part.

At Trailblazer, the second part of our identity is to CALL OUT GOLD. This means seeing others, calling out the good in them, and inviting them into success. 

I don't mean "seeing" here lightly. Not just looking around to see who's around you. I mean seeing people. Really seeing who they are, what they're dealing with, and what they need to be successful.

Good leaders are able to understand their teammates and help them get what they need. They don't just see numbers and results, they see real-life relationships.

Seems simple enough, but ask yourself these questions. Whether you're leading a group, running a business, or just living in community, do the people around you feel seen? Do they feel known? Do they feel like they are receiving what they need? Do they feel comfortable bringing their true selves to this endeavor?

Now ask it this way. Do they feel seen by me? Do the feel like they are receiving what they need from me? Do I make them feel comfortable being their truest self?

Leaders cannot expect anyone else to ask these questions. We cannot wait for someone else to carry out these ideals. We must pave the way in this lifestyle.

Imagine what would happen if we were bold enough to take off our masks, define our why, and choose to see others.

Word of warning, these concepts have been known to awaken unstoppable leaders.

- Victoria Rinear