“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born . . . and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain
“Just one thing,” was the reply of the boss of the cattle drive. He was answering the question he had posed to the cowhand. This pivotal scene came from the movie, City Slickers. Actor Jack Palance played the boss and Billy Crystal played the city slicker, who was now a cowhand on a vacation that provided a real experience of a cattle drive.
The question he had posed was, “Do you know what the secret to life is?” Puzzled by the question and before the cowhand could answer, the cattle drive boss stuck one finger in the air and replied, “Just one thing.” Not comprehending the message, the city slicker asked, “But, what is that one thing?”
Pointing directly at the cowhand for added emphasis, he replied, “That is what you have to figure out. Once you do, nothing else matters.”
I believe the message in the movie and Mark Twain’s quote is a parallel, representing significant truth. They shine light on a question we may have pondered for years. What is my life all about? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Perhaps, you raised it to family or friends. It is possible someone may have said you are ‘thinking too much.’ Or, you might have received that “Don’t think too deeply” comment.
Life is asking us this question, whether we raise it or not. And, it is asked in a personal way. What is the secret to my life? What is my Why? Once we figure out that ‘Why,’ the rest of life is easy, right? No, it is not! It is anything but easy. However, it will no longer be ordinary. It will then only be extraordinary!
To know in your heart why you are here is to change all the conversations in your life. Lengthy or brief, substantive or casual, all exchanges matter in a life lived with a ‘Why.’ The conversations (written or spoken) you took for granted so often as routine, boring chats, with those whom surround you, (and who forever talk to you about anything and everything), now take on another meaning. In a life with a purpose, every question and discussion may be tied to what we should be, what we want to be, what, at our very core, we are called to be doing in life.
To know your purpose is to change the way you approach every single day. How could anyone ever get up on any day of the rest of their life and not be changed by just knowing the ‘Why?!’ “I was put here with a mission!” is that inner voice we hear and passionately want to believe. We may be afraid to express it in words, but in the deepest part of our hearts, we want to believe that our existence matters. In the middle of our busy lives with myriad tasks and responsibilities, we fervently hope . . . we pray . . . that our life counts. It does!
You may be asking the obvious question, ‘How can I figure this out?’ The cowherd boss said you must do it. Where do we start? I can point you in a direction of a road I, too, have traveled. But, the real work of answering this question has to be done by you.
One simple tool that may help you is the following: Identify all the things you love to do. Identify all the things you are really great at doing. From those two lists, combine the things that you love to do with those you are great at doing. Somewhere in that intersection may be your ‘Why.’
For my own journey, it involves going all the way back to third grade when I first discovered that I had a special love for speaking to others. I have been fortunate, along the way, to have had lots of speaking moments. And I have had the opportunity with my wife to build a successful transportation business, comprised of a great team. Entrepreneurship, too, was there from the beginning.
But, my real love . . . my passion . . . my ‘Why’ has always been, and still remains today, is to speak to audiences of any dimension. I live today for the chance to share a message through a story that will provide others with inspiration and motivation to assist in applying important life principles – those foundational and fundamental principles – around since the beginning of time. I live with the hope that I can help even just one person today to discover a tool or practice that helps them on their journey. I will wake up every day for the rest of my life just to have the chance to make a difference. One tool . . . one practice . . . one speech . . . one life changed – that is my ‘Why.’
At an age when most people are retiring, I find myself beginning again. I wake up each day with excitement because behind it all is that ‘Why!’
Mark Twain’s question is essential, but the one he did not ask is even more important. Are you living out that ‘Why?’ If not, when will you?
Is now the time?