In the last few years I have discovered several books that have helped me give myself “permission” to listen to my heart and begin following my own path – not someone else’s idea of what would be the best path for me. It started when I discovered Simon Sinek and his TED Talk on the subject of “Starting with Why.” I bought his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. If you haven’t read it, you might want to check it out. The only trouble I have had with “Why”, is explaining it to other people.
As a result of reading Start With Why, I have found helping people “find their why” has become my own passion, but it has proven to be a difficult task when talking to people who are hung up on “how.” The results are important, don’t get me wrong, but some of the greatest leaders in history would not have persevered long enough to become great leaders if they had been driven strictly by the results of their efforts. Great leaders are motivated by “why” and that makes all the difference. Sinek emphasizes that everyone needs to have the ability to move from “why” to “how”, but you have to start with “why”.
And then, two different friends told me about another author I had not yet heard of: Jon Acuff and his book Start. Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work that Matters. (Rob Beaudreault @challengeyourfamily, who gave me an autographed copy and John McKee @CatalystJohn who asked me about creating a contest in which he can give away an autographed copy using Facebook and his blog. We had a lot of fun running that contest!
Start, in my opinion, provides a more practical approach to finding your “WHY.” You’ll find a lot of similarities to Start with Why in this book about escaping average. The difference is that Acuff refers to Sinek’s suggestion to “find your why” as finding your “Awesome.” It challenges the reader to recall the days in her life when she believed she was awesome. Acuff, like Sinek believes it’s within all of us, but somewhere along the line we lost sight of it. They both think it’s still there, but as adults, we have to work a little harder to find it.
Whenever I introduce a new concept, I try to prepare for those who will challenge it because it’s unfamiliar to them. That is what has occurred when I discuss the importance of following one’s passion, or starting with why. People insist it isn’t practical. If everyone just followed their heart, and their passions, there wouldn’t be anyone getting anything done. I think Acuff’s response to someone who challenged him in this way is perfect:
“You’re confusing awesome with a job title. Awesome is the core of who you are. It’s your heart, your soul, the fabric of what makes you. A job title is just a consequence of you living out of your awesome. I’m not trying to tell people to go out and find new job titles; I’m telling them to escape average.”
Whether you’re living and working in your “awesome” or not, you’ll enjoy reading Jon Acuff’s newest book because it’s real. He’s in his awesome and he wants you to have the opportunity to do the same. It’s not unrealistic, and it’s not selfish to consider those things that give you the most joy. As a matter of fact, Acuff says, “being who you are designed to be always results in in selflessness, not selfishness.