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Discovering Why

I was recently talking with a gentleman during a Biz Chat – asking him about what he did each day and how he found himself in that particular line of work.   As our discussion unfolded, his words seemed dull and almost apathetic.  His tone was flat and lacked ambition.  He talked about how what he did was “nothing special” or “unique” and just average.  It was really a tough conversation for me, trying to pull anything that sounded like enthusiasm from his dreary outlook.

Within the context of our discussion, I asked about his family and homelife.  While I was really just interested in understanding him, I was shocked at how quickly his vocabulary and interest improved.  As if he threw a switch, my friend immediately dove into discussion about his children and how much he enjoyed being a father.  Excitement and joy permeated his words and facial expressions as he shared stories of his family.  My friend finally shared a deep passion which, prior to this moment, I wasn’t certain existed.  The change was amazing!

Deep Passion.  Many of us think we have it and, perhaps some of us do.  I suspect that most of us are always refining our passion and searching for ways to embrace it more fully.  Every time I think that I’ve “discovered my passion”, I seem to find myself digging a little deeper and looking for just a bit more.


In his popular book, Start with Why, author Simon Sinek challenges the reader that finding their purpose (their “Why”) is critically important.  He proposes that customers do not buy “what” you do – they buy “why” you do it.  Sinek claims this is true for companies, brands, products, services, and ideas.  The notion is that our individual Why drives everything about our passions and our work ought to mirror this.  It’s not hard to appreciate the wisdom in this.

As a company, Apple wants to make sleek, simple design a cornerstone of who they are. You might say that “simple” is Apple’s passion; Every Apple product, Apple Store, and Apple employee embraces the elegant, clean, classy style that has become synonymous with “Apple”.    Duluth Trading Company creates rugged, tough, and comfortable clothes that customers expect will perform in any environment.  If you visit a Duluth Trading Company retail store, you would expect Paul Bunyan to be shopping there, too!

Individually, we all need to discover our “why.”  What gets us out of bed in the morning?   What motivates us toward success?  What (or who) is so important to us that we’re willing to forego our own interests in pursuit of fulfilling our goals?

My friend with his dull job really did have a “why”, but it was buried deep. Maybe he wasn’t sure how to express it yet.  Looking back, I think his personal “why” just wasn’t connected to his professional life. Perhaps he just needs time to see that.

The Value of a Biz Chat

The lesson learned during this Biz Chat was clear, though. Oftentimes a Biz Chat can be interesting or educational.  With a good discussion, you discover details that makes the time worthwhile.

A bad Biz Chat can feel boring, superficial, and perhaps even self-serving.  Your colleague may not give you time to share your business or, even worse, could attempt to sell to you during the discussion!

One way to avoid a negative Biz Chat is to really dig in for the other person’s “why”.  Jump into the deep water and understand their passion, their motivation, and their deeply-rooted values that drive who they are.  Maybe their business isn’t thrilling or ridiculously cool, but understanding who they are and their zeal for life far outweighs anyone’s job.

In your next Biz Chat, take a risk and go for the deepest core that you can find.  Go ahead and ask someone about their “why” and be prepared to be amazed at the wonderful things you’ll hear.