In Lead more gently/ Purpose

“Why” you live will determine “how” you live

A newly married young woman decided to cook roast beef for her husband.  Diligently she oiled and spiced the beef shoulder then took a sharp knife and cut the slab of beef in half.  She then placed the two pieces into the roasting pan, ready to go into her modern stainless steel oven.

“Why did you cut the meat in half?” asked her husband.

“Well,” said the young woman, “I do it because that’s the way my mother did it.”

“Why did she do that?” The husband asked his wife.

“I don’t know,” was her reply.

They phoned Mother to find out why.

“I’ve been cutting the beef in half all my life.  I do it because my mother does it that way.” Said Mother.

So they phoned Grandmother to find out why.

“Why do we cut the roast in half?” Grandma was asked.

“I don’t know why you do it,” said Grandma. “I cut it in half because the shoulder of beef I cook is too big to fit in my small oven.”

Do you know why you do things? Is there a reason, a motivation, a cause? Or do you do things just because others do it?

  • Why do you spend money on certain things?
  • Why do you work where you do?
  • Why do you participate in the activities you do?

Often times we simply do things because others are doing it.  Many times it’s mindless and pointless.  I am a firm believer in having a set of core values by which to live.  It helps to give me a filter through which to make decisions.  For example, there are certain stores where I just won’t shop because they don’t align with my core values.  For the same reason, I won’t participate in certain activities nor work at certain places.  They don’t align with why I live.  I believe in living life on purpose and with purpose.

Why we live will affect how we live.  Whether we are aware of this why or not.   If I believe that life is about me, even if I have not articulated it nor do I admit it, if I believe life is about me, then how I live will reflect this inner belief.   I will make decisions that benefit me, I will communicate with others in ways that revolve around me, I will do whatever pleases me.

Determining why and how we live is not easy.  It takes:

  • Honestly reflecting on our life.
  • Deciding whether the why we come up with in the current reality is the why we actually want our life to revolve around.
  • Intentionally determining how we want to live life – a set of core values – that reflect the why.
  • On purpose, filtering our day to day actions and choices through our why and how.

Wile E. Coyote lives to catch the roadrunner.  This is his why.  He will stoop to almost anything to realize this cause.  His core value statement (his how) probably includes  *be sneaky  *spend money on anything that remotely looks like it can catch a roadrunner  *live through any kind of humiliation if there is a chance to catch a roadrunner.    He lives his life on purpose.  If the roadrunner comes strolling past, because Wile E.  knows why he lives and how he is willing to live, he will easily determine that whipping out a stick of ACME dynamite and hurling it at the roadrunner is perfectly acceptable behavior.

For each of us, taking care of why we live will help us determine how we should live.

If the why is indistinct, then how we live life becomes random and sometimes pointless.


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