What do you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?
I spent a week in June at youth camp. Each evening the camp pastor closed the time of worship by asking, “What do you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?” The question has been haunting me for weeks.
In his book Start With Why business leader Simon Sinek introduces his readers to The Golden Circle. Fashioned much like an archery target, the center ring has the word why in it. The next ring has the word how, and the outer ring has the word what. Sinek suggests most employees in a company know what product the company produces. A fewer number know how products are produced. Even fewer know why. Based on his research, Sinek concludes the most successful companies have employees who know not only what they make and how; they know why.
Sinek’s conclusion has application outside the business world. If we are honest, few of us stop long enough to discover our why. Many of us become stuck in what we do or in how we do it. The mundane details and complex demands of the day-to-day lull us into autopilot, rendering us incapable of discovering our why.
But here is the thing: in order to thrive we have to discover our why. We have to know our purpose. Knowing our why empowers us when our what and how get hard. Knowing our why helps us not lose heart as we navigate academic demands, analyze research, reconfigure staff, design strategic plans, imagine institutional advancement, struggle through the demands of publishing or even wrestle with the nuances of first year resident student life.
What is your why? I am not asking what you do or even how you do it. I am not even asking how you prepared to do what you do or what academic degrees or experience you have. I am asking what is your why?
Like the youth at my church, I now wear a bracelet on the wrist of my right hand. This Peruvian fair trade bracelet, given to me at camp, reminds me of the question the camp pastor asked: What do I plan to do with this one wild and precious life? The question no longer haunts me, but I leave the bracelet on as a visual reminder of my plan.
What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?…or in Sinek’s words: What is your why?