Sometimes a book comes along at the right time in your life. I finished reading Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” the other day and have been thinking about it a lot.
Enough that I sat down and looked at the WHY of more than a few things that I do. Especially the WHY about this blog.
We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.Simon Sinek – Start With Why
My WHY Questions
When I asked myself why am I creating this blog, at first I didn’t have good answers.
Is it because I love to write?
That is part of the answer, but I could easily write in a journal to get my daily writing fix. To me writing is a process and part of the process is to share what you have written with others. Ultimately to have someone read what I have written and once in a while even get a comment about it. Blogging allows me to do that.
Is it to become a professional writer?
No, I don’t foresee me writing a book or writing articles for others to publish or payment (if someone wants to give me money sure I will take it, but that is not why I do this). I am a rank amateur who enjoys my writing, but it is not who I am or what I do to make money. Writing on this little blog, with very few readers is not going to make me a professional and I am good with that. You can read my Staying an Amateur – Ain’t it Great for more on this. I also know that by staying amateur it is a cop-out to the craft and takes the pressure off me.
Why did I create this blog?
Like most of my other blogs it was a spur of the moment choice. When I first envisioned using this site again it was not going to be a blog, but a homepage for my online activities. It wasn’t until I got to changing the themes that I got the brilliant ideal to start another blog instead. I hadn’t realized how much I missed writing about things beyond running and needed a place to write about my other interests. My initial thoughts blog post has more on that why.
What is the WHY for this blog?
I am still struggling with that a little after reading Sinek’s book to be honest. I thought it would be about things I am doing as I get older and share those adventures with others. After sitting down and really thinking about things it is more than that.
That is part of the WHAT part of what I am writing about here, but it is not the WHY.
How do I say this without sounding egotistical or that I am patting myself on the back with both hands. Because I am not attempting to do either. I guess the best way is to tell a story from the past.
My WHY started with an event that happened during my first week of high school, way back in 1971. Freshmen were required to sit down with their guidance counselor to go over their courses and what track they were going to follow: college, business, industrial arts, etc.
This meeting was one of those seminal moments in my life and one that I will never forget.
A little background first: I am from a small town in Central Maine and my parents were 16 and 15 when I was born, yeah they were kids raising kids. They were still growing up themselves while attempting to raise six kids. Mom was a waitress and Dad worked in a variety of labor-intensive jobs in the area. They were respected as hard workers, but they had their demons too. Dad wasn’t thought all that highly by many of the Town Fathers and our family was considered a bit too rough around the edges. While I had a decent childhood, it definitely was not one with a silver spoon in my mouth.
Back to the story.
I got to the appointment with the guidance counselor a few minutes early. I was so excited to talk with him about going to college. How I wanted to be the first one in my family to receive a college degree and was all ready to start the college prep tract.
The words used below are probably not exact, but are pretty close and they do retain the meaning of what I heard that day.
The outer office was empty when I came in. The secretary was in with the guidance counselor. They didn’t know I was outside and were talking. So I sat down in the waiting area and I heard the secretary say.; “Your next appointment is Harold Shaw.”
He responded back with an edge in his voice. “Is it Harold Shaw’s boy from over in Newport?”
She said. “Yes.”
In an exasperated voice, he said. “I don’t know why I even bother, he’s just going to end up like his father. He’ll just get some girl knocked-up in a couple of years, drop-out and go work in a mill – that’s his future. It’ll just be more wasted time seeing him.”
At that point, I got up, kicked the chair so they knew I had heard what he had said. I walked out. The secretary was yelling at me to come back, but I was too: hurt, pissed, confused and so many other emotions going through me. I did some stuff after storming out, but that is a different story.
That night I had a long talk with my parents. The next day Mom visited the school (she could be a pitbull) and for some reason or other I got a different guidance counselor and an apology.
So why is this little vignette important to anyone but me?
I had a choice.
I could let the guidance counselor’s words become a self-fulfilling prophecy or I could use them to motivate me to do more than he would ever dream I could.
It turned out that the guidance counselor was wrong.
Has my life since that day been perfect – of course not.
However, I didn’t get some girl knocked-up, I did graduate high school in the college prep tract, eventually I got my college degree (it took 18 years) and I didn’t just go to work in some local mill. I went into the U.S. Coast Guard, spent over 20 years serving my Country, then worked with troubled youth and became a Special Education Teacher. Now I am retired and still working on living a life well lived.
Like so many others who have run into similar experiences, I was not the person the guidance counselor thought that I was or was going to turn out to be. All those preconceptions, stereotypes and biases that others have had due to a family’s name, where people live, what the parents did for a living or even what you are doing now.
We are more than that, we can be who we decide to be, based on our abilities and the choices we make.
I believe that there are many people out there who have shared my experience. If not with a guidance counselor, but other people in their lives. Hopefully, when I share my continuing journey it might inspire someone else to start, re-start or continue their own journey to being more than what someone else predicted they would do with their life.
A person’s age or whatever the bias or “ism” they are battling, it doesn’t matter. Change can happen if you decide it is time to change. No it is not easy, but it can be done.
That is my WHY and why I created this blog and want to write here.
To inspire others that they can do it too.
What have I learned today?
After sitting down, thinking, stewing, struggling and thinking some more about my what my WHY was for writing on this blog.
Now I know why I am writing on this blog.
My WHY for writing here is that I want to inspire others that they can do it too.
I want people to believe that they can make choices to create the life that is right for them and that they are more than other people’s expectations or predictions of who they will become in their life. Showing them that it can be done and that, yes, there are struggles and difficulties along the way that can be overcome.
I will admit many times when times were difficult or I had come to a hard choice those words from the guidance counselor that day have echoed in my mind.
I couldn’t let the bastard be right.
Over the years I have learned, often the hard way, that life is not about what others believe or think you are like. A life well lived is about the life you chose to create for yourself.
That is why my tagline is so important to me and why I will write here about my experiences and journey to that life.
Life isn’t about finding yourself — Life is about creating yourself — George Bernard Shaw