Your Personal “Why”

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I’ve been privileged to know some of the most amazing people in the world.  Not amazing because of their name or wealth or any of those superficial things.  I’ve found that the most remarkable people are those who have passionately invested their time and substance to change their world.  What’s oftentimes astounding is the why that serves as the personal motivation for what they do.  So, let’s look at that…the why behind the work.

I once read a quote that simply stated, “When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.”  Sometimes, that’s what it’s all about…a personal experience that has marked you in such a way that it has become a driver for change—change within yourself, your community, your world—your personal why.

You don’t need to be an abused wife to have a desire to establish a shelter for domestic violence victims, but perhaps you’ve witnessed such violence.  You may never be diagnosed with cancer, but perhaps you’ve lost someone to the disease.  Perhaps, a child will grow up and operate a youth mentoring program, because a foster parent provided the love and guidance needed to change the direction of their life.  Any of these—and perhaps none of these—could be your why for the things that you do.

You must identify your reason to drive social, economic, or spiritual change, and that reason need not ever be shared.  Your why is your own, but it contains great power as it fuels your drive and provides meaning behind the work that you (and those who choose to follow you) do.

Now let’s get back to my original statement.  I’ve been privileged to know some of the most amazing people in the world.

These amazing people are change agents who positively impact their communities through outreach, viable programs, and self-sacrifice.  To say that they do it tirelessly would be selling their efforts short.  Fundraising, building networks, keeping the organization afloat, and serving others becomes tiring.  It’s at those moments (maybe even hours) that they ponder their why and they press on yet another day, shelter yet another woman, feed yet another hungry child, and increase their contribution toward bettering their world.

The greatest of works are oftentimes born out of the suffering of others.  It is a truth that we are only human and fail to see the purpose behind many of life’s experiences.  However, those of you who have looked upon your experiences and effectively declared them to be soil and materials for building marvelous works, you are amazing indeed.  Though I know many of you and am aware of what you and/or your organization does, I don’t know why you do it; but I and countless others are glad that you do.

For those of you who are contemplating starting a program, an organization, or simply a work of some sort, I challenge you to identify your why.  That three-letter word, whether shared or private, will empower you in such a manner that sustains your resolve through the hardest of times and feeds your purpose for being, doing, and succeeding.

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STEPS, Inc. is a nonprofit organization bridging the gap between the nonprofit and public sectors through management, education, developmental servicing, and collaborative efforts.
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