So I’m writing a book, and after explaining what the book is about to a good friend, he asks me why am I writing it? I gave the obvious answer of course, “Because I’ve always wanted to write a book.” And then comes the predictable question, “Why?”
And then my mind produces a deluge of possible answers:
Because I have something to say, that is important? Because I want to be famous/rich/acknowledged?Because I want people to get how smart I am?
Note the question marks. It’s just amazing to me that I had not thought of why I wanted to do this. I then began really thinking and writing about the purpose of the book. What would it mean to me, my readers, to people that I would mention in the book, to the world? What value would it provide?
This it turns out has become quite a revealing and productive exercise. Because in thinking about the why I wanted to write the book, it is affecting what I want to say in the book and how I’m going to say it. The thinking about the why, to what purpose should I undertake this effort has created an entirely new space for the “doing” of the book.
I was reminded of this at a business workshop I attended this last weekend where an organization got it’s employees and customers together to share their thinking about the why and what of their enterprise. What an exercise! Instead of mindlessly going about the doing of their existing business until a crisis hit, they were asking themselves very tough questions about why they exist, and in answering that question coming up with new possibilities for the business.
And this got me thinking. Every day people do a whole slew of activities that they don’t think about. No idea as to the purpose or the history of the activity. They watch certain TV shows, read certain magazines, go to work, argue with their kids or tuck them into beds, all with no purpose in mind. They just do them.
I wonder how many of the activities you would stop doing or modify if you were to stop and ask why you were doing them? How many of your current activities would you continue if you became present to the consequence of continuing those activities?
Kind of heavy eh? Some people may find that asking questions like these will lead to the really big question: What is my life for?
Happy trails. 😉