July 12

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” – Viktor Frankl

There is little gratification in work that’s not sourced in intent and purpose.

Imagine that I took you into a field and told you that somewhere in the field is a target, and your job is to hit it with a bow and arrow. No other rules – just hit the target. However, there is one small caveat: you’ll be blindfolded. You’ll have no idea where the target is.

Now, imagine that after a lot of trial and error you somehow manage to hit the target by sheer luck. You’ll be glad that the exercise is over, but how gratified do you think you’ll be?

I’d argue that you wouldn’t be very gratified, because there’s little gratification that comes from work that’s not sourced in intent and purpose. As humans, we are wired to derive a sense of satisfaction and even a sense of self from the work that we put into the world. When the results of our work are not connected to a deeper sense of why we are doing the work, even success can feel hollow. 

It’s important that you are able to understand the why behind the projects you are working on. I don’t mean the deep existential reason you are on this planet, I mean the deeper theme, or through-line, that explains why the work you do is important to begin with. Otherwise, it’s possible to work for days, or weeks, or months on end and end up accomplishing a lot that means little or nothing to you. 

Question: Do you understand why you are doing the projects and tasks you’re accountable for? If not, do whatever it takes to learn the why before diving into the what.   

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