Why Do You Do What You Do?

Why Do You Do What You Do? May 17, 2016


Every job has parts that are drudgery.

Traveling the world, even on an expense account, isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. Cramped airplanes, disappointing hotels, navigating unfamiliar cities and languages

Teachers have to grade papers.

Doctors must deal with insurance companies.

Police might spend hours filing reports.

(Fill in your own least favorite chores here.)

photo by Katie Sayer on flickr (CC license)
photo by Katie Sayer on flickr (CC license)

So why do they do it?

What keeps them in those jobs?

Well, obviously, teachers are shaping young minds. Doctors are healing. Police are protecting.

And every now and then, there’s a day or an experience that reminds us why we do what we do, and suddenly it all seems worthwhile.

When a student lights up with understanding.

When a patient who was touch-and-go walks out of the hospital healthy and happy.

When a family tears up thanking the police officer for catching the bad guy.

For me, it’s when someone tells me they put a spiritual principle into practice and saw their lives change, or was helped by one of my books. It’s hearing new members rave about how much they love my church.

Those moments remind me why I do the job I do and help make up for some of the clerical duties and meetings. (Although I have very little to complain about in my job.)

What makes it important to remember why you’re doing something?

Because the why behind any action makes a difference in the how.

To remember that you are serving other human beings or making the world a better place is a powerful perspective on otherwise mundane tasks. It keeps you striving for excellence during those times when the job itself isn’t much fun.

You’re not just checking a box or trying to please a boss. You are part of something larger than yourself. You are living your values and making a difference.

And it’s not only at work.

Why does a couple get up repeatedly during the night to care for a newborn? Because they are nurturing a human life.

Why does a homeowner pull weeds? Not simply to have a pretty lawn but to create a pleasant, even sacred, space for the family to gather.

Why does Dad get the oil changed in the family car? It’s an act of love and service.

We all have important whys in our lives.

The why paints a bigger picture than any particular action we take.

I invite you to think this week about why you do whatever you do.

And watch this short video about the power of knowing why. It made me laugh, then brought tears to my eyes.

E. Daryl Duff on Michael Jr.’s Break Time video, “Know Your Why”
E. Daryl Duff on Michael Jr.’s Break Time video, “Know Your Why


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