We Lose Our Way When We Lose Our Why

Episode #8: “Connecting the Dots”

These are some crazy times that we are experiencing lately and it seems like the volume control of the “noise” in life has been cranked up. Recently I was struggling to find my bearings and I was reminded of an experience that happened some time ago. I share it with you as a form of advice to help you if you too are ever struggling…

The experience came to me while I was doing some work with school teachers in the slums of Calcutta. My good friend and former RMIT guest Rajiv Patnaik (Episode #8 “Connect the Dots”) had invited me to come to the private school that he owns in India. In order to get some context and learn firsthand the struggles of the children and the families of the school, Rajiv felt like I needed to go into the homes of some of his students. He reached out to a couple of his families and they were extremely gracious and welcoming and allowed me, a perfect stranger, into their sacred homes. During one particular visit, I met an amazing young girl who would teach me a powerful lesson that I will never forget.

At the time she was 20 years. At that young age, she was already establishing herself as the rock in her family. Her single mother worked all day so she had stepped up to help raise her other 4 siblings. After hearing her story, I asked her what she does when it gets hard. After my question, she quickly answered that it is not hard. I looked at her and waited for the real answer. After a few seconds, she pushed back tears and told me and the group that when it gets hard, she stops what she’s doing, takes a couple of deep breaths and reminds herself why she is doing it. She tries to picture her own future and the future lives of her siblings living their dreams as doctors and engineers. She sees it and it gives her the strength to keep going. When it gets hard for her, she steps back and focuses on her why.

In that moment, standing in a home smaller than my laundry room, I understood something in a way that I never had before. In life, we usually lose our way when we lose our why. And as we flip that truth we learn that as we find or clarify our why, our way becomes clear before us.

If we have lost our way, let’s find our why. Let’s all regularly stop what we’re doing, take in a couple of deep breaths, and look around to remind ourselves who we are and what we mean to the people around us. As I think about this girl’s answer to me, I think of the words in the Dianne Reeves’ song “Testify” when she sings these words:

“Be still, stand in love, pay attention.”

I am no doctor, but that is my prescription today. As we do this, the noise will subside and we will find the clear path forward, towards our why.

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