Find your “inside out” by asking “why?”

Ask why to unlock your potentialHow would you like it if your brain was turned inside out? What about your life? Would you feel uncomfortable? Liberated? Scared? Awesome? All of the above?

When I have a conversation with someone who is able to open my mind, reach in and expose my limbic system, I take notice. Understatement. I believe with all my being that everything happens for a reason, and a conversation I had this morning is an amazing example of this. Cue ripple effect.

When Neel Aggarwal and I arranged to meet for coffee at his downtown Kitchener office, I figured it would be a pretty standard get-to-know-each-other-in-real-life conversation. We met on Twitter a few weeks ago and have since shared and chatted online, realizing that we have some interesting connections through work and volunteering. Nice…but kind of… *yawn*

So why do I feel like I’ve been given a golden egg? After only 20 minutes with Neel, I learned about the power of why and Simon Sinek, and I also met a person who is intent on changing the world. There isn’t a shadow of doubt in my mind that Neel is going to rock our community, move people to think, and thereby shift the thinking of this world. No big deal.

The “why” that Neel talked to me about was not the persistent why that I get ad nauseum from my three-year-old. Instead, this is a quiet why, that peels away the layers of what we do, how we do it….and why….why?

Have you stopped to really think about why you do what you do? Really?

Shift your thinking - go inside out and start with whyNeel drew a simple diagram taken from Simon Sinek’s TED talk. I’m determined to have Neel explain this on video – he’ll do it far more justice than I can and he’s also using this concept to revolutionize how we look at financial planning. For now, I’ll do my best to put my own words to it.

What, How and Why

We typically know very clearly what we do. This is the no-brainer stuff. The next layer of understanding about ourselves is how – for the most part, we can describe how we do something and how we achieve our what. At the centre of what and how is our why – our values, our beliefs, our purpose.

But how much time do we spend really understanding our why? Do we operate from the outside in, from a clear understanding of what to a fuzzy understanding of why? Or do we let our why drive everything else?

Another question – What does it cost to leave behind the status quo?

Lymbic system, Lymbic brains - the centre of whyAs I made my way back to Wellesley after my chat with Neel, I thought about my own why and ended up with another question – what does it cost to leave behind the status quo? This is top of mind for me because of what I’ve experienced over the past three months. When I left my day-job, my why changed from making a difference on behalf of a company (not a bad thing) to operating to my fullest potential (a big, scary nebulous, AMAZING thing). To do this, I had to give up everything that was normal and consistent, and exchange it for opportunity…and uncertainty. So, the cost? Everything and nothing – it takes everything you have to commit, and it requires nothing more than that commitment.

If you haven’t tried living inside out, I highly recommend it. To quote Simon Sinek, “Start with why.”

What is your why?
What other questions does it cause you to ask of yourself?

If you’d like to speak to Neel Aggarwal, you can find him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also find me there, too, as Hot Quill on Twitter and Facebook, and as Roshan Grossman on LinkedIn.

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