For The Sake Of What?

For The Sake Of What?

I’ve just spent the last week travelling around Australia speaking at different conferences, including one with Business Chicks at Uluru in Australia’s outback (I posted some pics to Facebook yesterday – it was pretty spectacular!) A common thread that weaves through all my talks is the importance of being intentional in what we say and do.

It makes sense right?  Yet, it begs the question:

Why do we so often not take the actions what we know would serve us and others?

Obviously there’s a whole book in the answer to that question (or several!). But at the core of it, it’s because we’re wired to take the path of least resistance (and greatest short term pleasure & minimal stress) and we’re pretty lousy at judging how our actions today (or lack thereof) will make us feel down the track.

It’s why people stay in jobs that leave them miserable and in relationships that make them lonely. It’s why people spend beyond their means, racking up debt they know they can’t pay off. It’s why people avoid difficult conversations, opting instead to let issues fester (sometimes for decades!)  It’s why people procrastinate, investing enormous energy justifying their excuses. And it’s why, the #1 regret of the dying is that they wish they’d taken more risks and been braver – left that job they loathed, had that third child, shared their hurt, confided their struggle or simply embraced life with a greater sense of adventure.

It’s also why it’s crucial to be clear about what matters most to you in life; how you want to measure ‘success’. Because if you aren’t,  it’s easy to fall into into the path of least effort, least risk and least resistance – driven more by what scares us than by what inspires us.

As I shared in my recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, achieving anything worthwhile requires courage in some way – laying something you value on the line for something you value even more.  But you must first ask yourself:

For the sake of what?

  • For the sake of what are you willing to make a change you’ve been putting off?
  • For the sake of what are you willing to brave a tough conversation?
  • For the sake of what you are you willing to pursue a big goal that scares the socks off you?
  • For the sake of what are you willing to risk criticism or rejection?

As I wrote about in the opening chapter of Brave:

Knowing what you stand for is the foundation upon which bravery is built.

When we connect with a strong emotional reason for doing something, it amplifies our motivation for action and dilutes our fear.  Not achieving what you want (or changing what you don’t) is never about a lack of opportunity or resources. It’s simply because you haven’t found a big enough WHY to take action.  

So, for the sake of what are you willing to do something despite the well worn reasons you could make not to?

It’s a powerful question and one we must keep asking ourselves lest our innate desire for safety keep us from bravely creating the relationships and life we yearn for most.