Over the last few months I have had a chance to chat with some amazing individuals and they have spurred me to challenge my own motivations.
We do things every day that may or may not enrich our lives or the lives of those around us. What we really have to dissect is why we are doing things.
The question of intent is valid for work, home or play. It’s ok to do things merely for pleasure or adrenaline, but for those big tasks you should ask yourself why.
What is the reason you are doing the task in front of you?
Is it because you want to help?
Is it because you were asked to?
Is it because you need to find some validation?
Is it for the credit (money/praise/title) that you will receive?
Is it to meet the expectations of others?
Is it fuel for your ego?
I have taken these questions to heart and they have really started to make me dig deeper into my own motivation for doing things. I have asked myself why. I haven’t been proud of all of the answers.
In doing this exercise I have discovered that some of my reasons for doing things are not pure. In these cases I have set myself on a path to correct them.
The truth is that juicing my ego is NOT a good enough reason to participate in a task. Neither is having a nicer X than the person next to me.
For others I have discovered that my reasons are actually better than I ever gave them credit for being.
An example of this is the fact that a couple of years ago I made the commitment to ride across Canada with the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride. Participating was easy to validate; I was helping to raise much needed funds and awareness for pediatric cancer. I was going to help make a difference. I made the validations my reason why, which was not 100% true.
I could never put it into words why I had felt compelled to join this cause until I started to really dissect my own intent.
Why pediatric cancer over any other cause?
The answer is twofold:
- There is an end date on this cause. Each day we are making remarkable progress on finding an end to pediatric cancer. Each dollar raised is getting us another step closer to a world where kids aren’t dying of cancer anymore.
- This is a battle worth fighting. While we aren’t going to win every day, we are making progress. It is also something beyond a single person’s control. Unlike many causes that are fighting to end something end we have the capacity to prevent from happening in the first place. Hello Occupy Movement (Yeah I’m looking at you).
My goal in this regard is simple: To find an end to pediatric cancer and then tackle the next most deserving item on my list. Today I don’t know what that next item is, but I can tell you for certain I will dig into my motivation for doing the task before I commit to starting it.
We all have the capacity for good. We can make the world better for being in it if we so choose. Ask yourself why you sent that email, did that task, bought that thing.
What will your participation accomplish?