Every action that we take in our lives is rooted in either love or fear. The simplest way to realize which one we’re acting out of is by asking ourselves the question: “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”
I strongly believe that the most powerful questions we can ask ourselves and others start with “Why”, because the answers will reveal the purpose of our actions. As adults, we seem to have forgotten the importance of this question, but spending any time around children who are in a constant state of wonder and are eager to learn by expressing their native curiosity will reveal its significance.
Most of us are holding certain beliefs because they’ve been taught to us since childhood when we didn’t have the wisdom to question them; we’re following precise rules not because we believe that all of them are right for us, but because we’re afraid of the consequences of not following them; we tend to accept some constraints and limitations imposed to us by others and society overall not because this is what we want, but because we feel powerless and we’re afraid that we have no other options….and the list goes on.
A closer look at our so-called civilized society reveals that most people live their lives on extremely busy work schedules and once they get home have very little or no time left to enjoy everything else that life has to offer. In my opinion, it looks like we’re living for the weekend – and must admit that when I moved to Canada several years back, I was surprised to hear for the first time the expression “Happy Friday”, wondering what people meant by that…isn’t every day supposed to be happy?!
Why do we tend to have a sense of guilt when we’re not busy? Or when we feel the need to disconnect from work and social media for a while? Or when we take the time to enjoy the activities that we love? It’s this constant pressure from the outside world to constantly push ourselves to overachieve, to climb the corporate ladder, or to acquire all the material possessions that are associated to success in the modern world.
There seems to be a trend among people nowadays to walk through life completely unaware of the beauty that surrounds them, constantly with their headsets on, with their eyes glued to their smartphones, and missing the things that really matter – like creating genuine connections, holding meaningful conversations (instead of complaining about the weather or other things they have no control over)…or just simply enjoying the present moment. During those times I often find myself wondering if there’s something wrong with me for not joining this trend…
When we take the time to analyze the reasons for our actions, many of us will realize that with very few exceptions, they’re all rooted in fear. What we need to understand is that everything that is built upon fear is not sustainable in the long run, because it leads to emotional burnout and cumulative stress, which in turn, according to science and medical studies are known to be the main factors of many illnesses.
As Arianna Huffington states in her book “Thrive”: “We can choose to live in ways that help us live fuller, more complete lives, aligned with what matters. A life that isn’t defined by our salaries and resumes. A life that encompasses all that we are and can become.”
I’m so glad to see that practices like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, visualization, and focusing on the present moment are no longer considered some sort of New Age woo-woo, but instead, are endorsed by an increasing number of world class leaders that highly recommend them to all of us who want to live a healthy lifestyle.
In the TED Talk presentation below, Simon Sinek explains the importance of recognizing our purpose and starting with “Why”:
Our basic human needs are: certainty, significance, variety, love, growth and contribution – and all of them are not only essential to our survival, but they also have to be met daily. Because of that, we tend to do whatever it takes to meet them – however, the way we do it (based on positive or negative emotions) makes all the difference.
If we choose our daily actions based on what we love, the results in the long run will be rewarding and fulfilling. On the other hand, if we choose our actions based on fear, we might still accomplish some of our goals, but they will be short-lived and in time will make us feel depleted, exhausted, and overall unhappy.
Let’s take for example our work. The question is: Why do you work in your current job, or for a particular company? Is it because you love your work, or the company? If so, why do you love it? Or is it because you fear the consequences of choosing differently – a line of work, or a company that is aligned with your passion? Most people – over 80% according to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey – are dissatisfied with their jobs.
Why do they stay then? Although the reasons may vary, they are all rooted in one primary motive: fear. What most of us don’t realize is that fear never leads us to a good place. It will never give us what we really want, but merely offer us an instant gratification that is short-lived, instead of long term satisfaction that has purpose, meaning, and substance – and this is what we’re all seeking in the end.
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. ~ Michelangelo
I believe that the path to career fulfillment for all of us is to bring our contribution that derives from our passion, talents, and skills by aligning ourselves with companies that focus on what we believe in, who can clearly articulate the purpose that stands at the core of their business and demonstrate it through their daily actions.
For example, I believe in personal development because I feel that is the gateway to understanding our minds and the reasons for our actions. In my opinion, the key to understanding others starts with understanding ourselves. As a result, I’m willingly following companies and leaders that acknowledge permanent learning and development, change and innovation, as well as employee well-being as key drivers for success.
The reason why I believe what I believe is because I’ve tried both ways in my life – acting out of love, as well as out of fear – and based on my experience so far, I can see clearly which one is worth pursuing in the end. Whenever I chose to act out of fear things just didn’t feel right or they didn’t work out – and during those times I allowed my intuition to be my guiding compass in navigating my way through change.
Does this mean that I now make decisions solely based on love and have no fear at all? I wish I was, but in reality, I think that fear never goes away – but instead, through our life experiences we gain the awareness to recognize the difference and build the courage to look beyond our fears and act from a place of love. All of us are at different stages of a life learning process and the key to fulfillment is to recognize what drives us, why we do what we do. Because it’s our actions, not our words that prove what we believe – and awareness of our motives is the first step toward change.
Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable. ~ William Pollard