If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talking about having a “why,” a reason that’s bigger than yourself to do something that stretches you and makes you uncomfortable. I stress having a “why” because it is necessary if you want to maximize your potential.
You see, as humanity has evolved, the actual hardware of our brains has become more complex. In the beginning, human brains were designed to keep humans alive. Therefore, the brain would register when humans were in a familiar setting that had been catalogued as safe. If the brain started receiving new information from an unfamiliar experience, it would set off the body’s alarm system so that the human could get back to known safety. This feature of the brain would protect humans if they came upon unfamiliar wild animals, strange weather patterns, etc. That animalistic part of the brain still exists in all of us, setting off alarm bells when we experience something unfamiliar. This is why we might feel uncomfortable in social settings with a group of new people, why moving to a new city can be stressful, why we crave routine and stay stuck in habits. This also explains why the more you do something, the more comfortable you become. Because your brain has now catalogued something as being safe and acceptable, and no longer needs to set off the alarm system to escape. But how can we convince ourselves to keep doing something uncomfortable in order to train the brain and break that threshold of discomfort?
This is where the more recent evolution of the brain comes in. What sets human beings apart from other animals is the part of our brain which allows us to feel empathy for humanity. We aren’t just trying to keep ourselves alive anymore, we are trying to advance humanity so that all people have their needs met and experience true and lasting happiness. And using the strength of this empathetic part of our brain, we can override the old animal brain. Having a larger purpose in life, a “why,” one that serves more than just yourself, becomes more powerful than fight or flight instincts that don’t necessarily serve us anymore.
But you’ve already heard a lot of that from me. What’s different about this message is that not only does the human brain evolve, but so does the “why” you feed it with. Over my 27 year career in network marketing, my “why” has changed a few times. To this point it has been a gradual evolution. I started in the business because I was a stay at home mom and I didn’t want to ask my husband for money anytime I felt like taking the kids to the zoo. I started making money and saw that my goals could be more lofty. So I worked in order to make larger purchases for the kids: an outdoor playset, a trampoline, new bedroom furniture. As the kids got older, their expenses got larger, and soon enough I was saving enough money to send my four kids to the colleges of their choice. And that became a HUGE “why” for me. I had to pay my way through an associate’s degree at a community college, and then continued to take classes through the mail until I received my bachelor's degree six years later. I wanted more for my kids, so I pushed myself through rejection, loss of friends, and public speaking on massive stages to be successful in my business. As my final child prepares to start college this fall, I can say it was all very much worth it.
My kids have been my “why” for my entire career, but they aren’t really kids anymore. And for the first time, I’m experiencing a pivotal change in my “why.” This past week at my company’s first event of the year and decade, I was blessed to meet a number of young people on my team who are changing their lives through network marketing. These are young people who grew up with struggles, not enough support, and sometimes outright rejection from the people in their lives. Quite honestly, they remind me of myself. I know how badly I wanted to be loved and cheered on at that age, and as I heard these young people’s stories, I felt full of purpose in holding space for them and helping them on their journey of growth. In reflection on the experience, I can see that my “why” is now to help build the next generation of leaders.
I want for you to have a “why” that is so strong, no obstacle can stop you. I also want you to have the self awareness to realize when your “why” is changing so that you can be aligned with it. As you evolve, so will your “why.” Keep growing into your purpose. I am here to support you the whole way.
I would love to hear from you!