It was Dec. 17th, 1903, and the Wright Brothers were attempting to fly a plane in Kitty Hawk, N.C. But not everyone knows that Orville and Wilbur were actually the underdogs in the race to fly.
Samuel Pierpont Langley was a wealthy, well-educated businessman with great funding and some of the best personal connections in the world. He too was trying to fly. Langley, a keen businessman, knew that whoever solved the mystery of flight would not only make millions, but probably make history too.
The brothers didn’t have the valuable relationships, the money or the education, but they did have passion. They had a “why.” For Orville and Wilbur, it was not about the fame or the wealth, they were inspired by a higher force. They wanted to fly. They cared little about the money and ditched their profitable Wright Cycling Company to trade two wheels for none.
There is a why behind everything we do and everything we want to do, we just have to find it. It’s about discovering the reasons behind our dreams, our education and our profession, because discovering our own reasons is the secret to self-motivation.
“Just thinking about why you might want to do something, increases the chance that you will actually do it,” writes Michael Pantalon, author of Instant Influence.
Dr. Meg Jay writes in her book The Defining Decade that many 20-somethings think that this is their decade to kick back and relax. But in reality, she argues, our 20s are the most important years of our lives. It’s the decade in which we chart our course. That is, if we choose to chart our course. Many young adults are busy planning their weekend instead of planning their life.
But now is the time. Now is the time to plan: to decide, to choose and to become.
If you have a dream or goal that you want to accomplish, but aren’t 110 percent motivated to go after it, you can use Pantalon’s advice to influence yourself. If you really want to achieve the goal of practicing a skill, say writing, for an hour a day, you can ask yourself, “Why do I want to start writing for an hour every day?”
Thinking about questions like these can give you key insights into shaping your life.
If you are trying to decide between being an artist or a business person, and if art is your passion, then consider these quotes:
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing,” says Dale Carnegie.
“You really have to have passion if you want to succeed because it’s just so hard,” says Steve Jobs.
The good news: A recent New York Times article vividly describes how our newest generation tends to seek meaning instead of money. Research shows that people want to be able to pursue their passions at work. People want work that matters. We want to feel important more than we want to be well-paid.
So keep this in mind if you are passionate about art and perhaps thinking about changing your major to business. Remember that there are many people in the workplace who wish they could be pursuing their passion, but instead they are stuck doing work they don’t care for.
And if you are trying to motivate yourself to follow your passion, as Pantalon points out, just thinking about why you might want to go for it makes it more likely that you will. Pantalon also adds that writing or speaking about why you might want to do something is even more powerful than simply thinking about it.
Some people will argue that you should forget your passion and go into a career to make a lot of money. “What are you going to do with a degree in art?” And they have a point. Some people think that business and art just don’t match. One philosophy is to separate the two. Go to work from 9 to 5 and perhaps paint on the weekends, they say.
I think the great paradox is that when you find the meaning, you often find the money. I have found that cultivating passions are some of the most rewarding experiences in life. It seems to me that passions are what motivate behavior. Passions have a why. They have our why. They matter to us as individuals. They give us power, movement and emotion. They propel us forward. If you can mix work with passion, you are set. Do something you love. I say this because I have found that if you spend your whole life thinking about money, then you will likely lack a deeper spiritual understanding of yourself, others and the universe.
“Why” is the three-letter secret behind everything we do and everything we want to do. If we can uncover our reasons for doing what we do, we can learn how to motivate ourselves and make sure that we choose our best path. Perhaps our best path is to seek meaning over money. And who knows, perhaps, just like with the Wright Brothers, the fame and fortune may follow.