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‘If you don't know why you do what you do, and people respond to why you do what you do, then how will you ever get people to vote for you, or buy something from you, or, more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do.’ – Simon Sinek

Hearing these words from Simon Sinek, the author best known for popularizing the concept of ‘the golden circle’ and ‘Start With Why,’ flipped my entire reality upside down.  At the time, I was in grad school, sitting at a round table, hot coffee in hand, suffering from slight sleep deprivation and surrounded by a cohort of 15 at DePaul University.  Sinek’s TED Talk How great leaders inspire action was the topic of discussion.  The video was an intro to our next assignment to name our focus area.  ‘People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.’  Those words literally became ingrained in my head.  This led me to ask myself, ‘What is my purpose? Is my current occupation truly my why?  Or is it my what?  Or is it a stepping stone to get me where my true passion lies?’

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The Golden Circle from Simon Sinek.

My background is in public relations and advertising.  Initially I started thinking I would be a public relations expert.  I thought PR was my passion.  At the time, I had made up my mind that that was the career path I’m sticking with.  After multiple PR internships and freelancing, I discovered PR is not my passion at all.  In fact, my interest was drawn further and further away from that segment of the industry.  Then I had the opportunity to freelance at a prominent advertising agency.  I fell in love with advertising, working on new campaigns, learning about the creative process of creating an ad for a product, and hearing about the consumer experience.  It seemed pretty neat. 

Through all of my internships and work experience, my main goal was to strengthen the skills I possessed, to gain additional skills, build connections, make myself more marketable and pave a path toward financial stability.  Check plus to all of those.  I did just that and I’m proud of my career.  It got me to where I am today.  Even though I’m proud of where I am and how I got there (thanks to my parents, support, academics, networking and student loans, ha!), my mind is always wondering: Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?  I call this my gut feeling and Sinek describes this as the Limbic part of our brain that affects our decision-making, the ‘why.’

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Start off with defining your why: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief?

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Everyone is born with a talent.  Mine has always been writing and I’ve always had an ongoing curiosity about life.  That could also explain my love for traveling.  (So hey, why not be a traveling blogger?)  Of course my plans are more elaborate, but that’s a preview of my end goal.    But let’s be real.  Not everyone is lucky enough to jump right into his or her passion.  In fact, where you work currently could be the ‘what’ used to propel you to your end goal - what you actually believe in. 

It takes human trial and error to find out what you like, what you dislike, what you’re good at, what you’re bad at, which can ultimately give you those transferable skills to reach your end goal.  Or even open doors to unknown talents you never thought you had.   Whatever it may be, never ignore that gut feeling.  I know it can be annoying because it creates a sense of discomfort.  But that’s the part of the brain we should applaud.  It brings us back to not just living life to live, but to live life with an end goal of being happy and doing what you believe in.  It brings us back to the ‘why.’

Mr. Sinek said it best, great leaders look from the inside out (this is the Golden Circle: Why? How? What?).  Start off with defining your why: What’s your purpose?  What’s your cause?  What’s your belief?  Then your ‘what’ will hopefully fall into place. 

 

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