The Question to the Age-Old Question

I had the pleasure of being a part of a career day for a local school district in my area. I also had the honor of giving the closing remarks for the day. Inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED talk and philsophy on “Find Your Why”, I hope that my thoughts may inspire people of all ages, beyond my little corner of the universe, and so I’ve shared them below.

My advice on answering the age-old question: What do you want to be when you grow up? is breaking the “don’t answer a question with a question” rule.

That is because the answer is: Why? Why do you want to be what you want to be when you grow up? Why do you want to do what you are studying at college? Why do you want to do what you are setting out to do with your life? This answer can only come from you. Not your parents. Not your teachers. Not society. Definitely not social media.

Any guesses on the percentage of employees who are disengaged from their work? 68%. More than half of our working population isn’t feeling engagement with what they do. This is a slight problem. Wouldn’t you say?

Through your life, I hope with all of my heart, that you are blessed to have people surround you who support, strengthen, and help you clarify your “why.” But at the end of the day, you are the only one who can truly answer the question. And how do you find the answer? Let us count the ways:

Be curious. Ask questions. Spend time alone. (As in alone – without a phone. Adults in the room this goes for us too.) Go into nature. Meet new and different people. Then? Spend even more time alone… to process it all. To connect the dots. To feed your imagination. To make sure that the answers line up with something inside of you that makes you glow; that sparks your internal fire. That flicker is the hint. It’s the breadcrumb that will lead you to the next person or place or idea that will make your spark glow bigger and brighter.

See, this is all a desperate, selfish plea because we are so in need of people like you who are courageous, kind, risk-takers, and okay with being wrong. Because these are the only ways to be right and to know who you are and what you are made of.

That is what will make the world feel better. That is what will send a ginormous vibrational boom through the universe and ripple out to the great beyond.

How to begin? Just start. Start small. The next time you are about to say something, not say something, post, scroll, or hit send, pause to ask yourself: Will this hurt or help someone? Including you.

These acts are what will help you blaze the trail to who you are. These moments of self-awareness and kindness grow into your character.

So, my gift to you is a big, fat permission slip to be curious. Ask questions. And for goodness’ sake be bored. (The most underrated non-active activity ever, by the way.)

Then, the next time you step foot onto the field, into the science lab, or the art studio, or dance floor, you will go in with a greater sense of intention and focus than ever before.

This sense of integrity is what makes for incredible leaders in our schools, organizations, and communities.

Find out what is missing in the world. Look up and see what, where, how and why you can contribute.

These are the essential moments that will lead you to where you can best be of service in the world. Cause what the world needs now more than ever is love sweet love. And if you love what you do and why you do it, you are giving yourself and all of us the greatest gift of all.


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