In 1813, Humphrey Davy – a prominent British scientist, and a member of the Royal Society – damaged his eyesight in an accident with nitrogen trichloride.
It was perhaps the luckiest accident in modern human history.
Davy would be blind for months and in need of a quality assistant. When thinking about whom he would hire, he remembered a young man named Michael Faraday who sent him a 300-page book of notes taken during one of his lectures.
If that boy could take such meticulous notes during a lecture, surely he would be able to take note of everything while Davy was unable to see.
In 19th-century England, hiring Faraday was a radical decision. He was merely a bookbinding apprentice, from a poor family, without any formal education.
So the idea of Davy, one of the most respected scientists in England, entrusting him to perform all the complicated Scientific duties necessary of a lab assistant was crazy.
However, trust him he did – and society will forever thank him for it.
Michael Faraday did not just prove his worth as a competent lab assistant; he became perhaps the greatest scientist of all time.
He was the first to harness the power of electricity and store it in a generator.
He created the first electric motor, which powered the 20th-century.
And his work laid the foundation for scientists like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and countless others to build the world we know today.
His list the contributions go on – and may never have happened without the luck of Davy's accident.
How many great leaders, geniuses, and individuals capable of changing the world will never discover the greatness within them simply because they never had that luck?
To me, this is the greatest tragedy in the world.
I know there are countless "Michael Faraday's" out there that are capable of building a better world for all of us, but the opportunity just isn't there for them.
Providing these people with that opportunity is my "WHY".
THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
When setting a goal, whether it is to exercise this week, or change the world, there's a very simple formula we usually go through to achieve it.
We start with what we want to accomplish.
We strategize about how to achieve it.
Then if we are lucky, we find motivation when we think about why the hard work is worth it.
In his book Start With Why, author Simon Sinek called this formula, "The Golden Circle."
In nearly every problem we try to solve, or goal we strive to achieve, we follow this formula.
Unfortunately, we usually approach the golden circle from the wrong direction.
STARTING WITH WHAT
On the surface, starting with WHAT makes sense. Shouldn't you know what you want to accomplish before you set out to achieve it?
That is sound logic...if you actually know what you want.
Most people who set goals do not know why they want to reach that goal in the first place. So when they hit the inevitable hard days along the way, they do not have the inspiration to push their comfort zone and achieve an excellent result.
To see this for yourself, ask someone who sets a New Year's resolution to exercise 4 times per week why they want to start working out.
You will likely get a puzzled look, followed by, "Uh...to get in shape?"
In contrast, ask someone who just finished her first half marathon this year why she wants to exercise 4 times per week, and she will say confidently, "this year I am training for a full marathon."
The WHAT is the same, but the WHY is completely different.
Which is why we know she will finish that marathon, while millions of new gym members will not even make it to February.
THE POWER OF STARTING WITH WHY
First of all thanks for your mail, but I cannot open your articles, I think this is banned in Sudan.
Please is it possible for u to find a way to provide me these articles through any other source? I do not want to miss them.”
My heart started racing when I received that subscriber's email at midnight on a Friday.
I was coming home from a night on the town, but became so fired up that I did not just send him all of my articles, I stayed up working until I physically could not stay awake any longer and fell asleep 4 hours later.
Not because I used a productivity strategy.
Not because I ate high-willpower foods.
And not because I was seeking wealth, fame, or adoration.
But because it was a reminder of my WHY.
I honestly believe that this subscriber could be the next Michael Faraday. I believe he and all the other people of Sudan have greatness within them – and it breaks my heart that they are denied access to information that might help them discover that greatness.
So I wake up every day inspired to change that. To provide them and every other person on this planet access to reliable, expert-quality information that will help them learn, grow, and reach their full potential.
With this as my WHY, I have been able to push my mind, body, and spirit further than I thought possible.
Whatever your goal is, first ask yourself "WHY?"
Do you believe it will bring you happiness?
Do you believe it will benefit your family?
Do you believe it will make a positive impact on the world?
There are no right or wrong answers. What really matters is finding the WHY that will motivate you to persevere through all of the obstacles you will face along way.
Just remember that finding your why is merely the starting place.
WHY IS THE START, NOT THE FINISH
Starting with why will inspire you to achieve goals, help you bounce back from failure, and might even give you the confidence to change the world – but you still need to put in the work.
Unfortunately, many people who start with WHY never figure out the HOW. They are the "dreamers" who never learn how to "do."
Here are 2 strategies you can use to ensure you're not one of them.
Find People Who Know "HOW"
Walt Disney was once asked by a shareholder, "what would happen to Disney if he was hit by a truck?" His answer shocked the crowd.
“Absolutely nothing. My brother Roy runs this company. I just piddle around.”
He was not kidding.
Shockingly, Walt Disney was not much of a businessman. In venture after venture, Walt kept failing – and racking up a lot of debt in the process.
Eventually, Roy Disney had to step in and run his brother's company. It was clear that Walt had no plans of giving up, and Roy feared that Walt would be taken out by loan sharks without his help.
Walt Disney had a clear understanding of his WHY. He genuinely wanted to bring happiness and wonder to children. But to achieve a vision as grand as his, he needed to surround himself with people who knew HOW.
Track Your Progress
I may never succeed like Disney, but I am just as much of a WHY person as him.
I have always taken risks, followed my passions, and been able to see the greater purpose behind my daily actions.
But because my mind is on the grand vision, I usually gloss over the details.
This is why I could never figure out how to build Willpowered into a sustainable living. I was motivated by why I was creating content, rather than learning how to create more valuable content, or analyzing the business side of things.
To counteract this tendency, I need to track as much information about my progress towards achieving goals as possible. When the brutal facts are right in front of me, they're hard to ignore.
To track my information, I use what I call a, "SMaC Tracker" that you can access for free by clicking the image below:
Or you can check out this article which lists all the benefits of tracking your progress, and suggests tools to help you get started.
The biggest mistake people make with their goals is approaching them in the wrong direction. Before you determine WHAT you want to accomplish, take the time to find your WHY.
The purpose, cause, or belief behind your goals will be the thing that motivates you to overcome the inevitable hard times along the way.