In the world of leadership and personal growth, there exists an ancient adage that proclaims, "Know thyself." This timeless wisdom, as old as human existence itself, continues to guide me on my journey towards understanding my true purpose, passions, and the profound impact I can have on the world. In a world brimming with life's complexities, this concept serves as a compass, guiding me to make a difference in the lives I touch.
Let us dive deep into the importance of leadership, understanding my "why," and how this process can be a transformative journey towards self-actualization.
I have always been driven by my 'why.' It all started during my teenage years when I landed my first job at the YMCA, taking care of children. Little did I know, that understanding my 'why' would become the driving force that guided me through the intricate labyrinth of life's complications.
Amidst the challenges life threw my way, I found solace in the impactful work with children. It dawned on me later that knowing my 'why' is not about passion; it is about making a tangible difference in the lives of others. It is about acknowledging that the impact I create for others is the same impact that shapes me.
There is a profound, innate feeling that comes with realizing this is my purpose on Earth. Understanding my 'why' propels me to continuously heal, self-discover, and develop the best version of myself. This journey empowers me to be as powerful, brilliant, and talented as possible so I can persist in doing what I love.
As I continue down the path of my passion, I learn to love myself more and more. This, I believe, is the true connection — a connection that fosters self-love and resilience, a tenacious tenacity to navigate life's twists and turns.
It is essential to recognize that knowing my 'why' does not eliminate challenges; rather, challenges bring me closer to my purpose and, most importantly, to myself. Through challenges, I embark on a journey of self-discovery and actualization, a rewarding goal.
While striving towards self-realization, I simultaneously make a meaningful impact on others and leave an indelible mark on the world. Challenges become the means through which I learn about myself, forging a deeper connection with my 'why' and leaving an enduring legacy. Embrace the challenges, for they are the stepping stones to self-awareness and fulfillment.
The Journey of Self-Actualization
To embark on this extraordinary journey of self-discovery and leadership, it is crucial to comprehend the fundamental essence of knowing my "why." It is not merely about a job but an expedition to unearth what truly matters to me. This journey encompasses self-actualization, a process where I understand my innate talents, passions, and the ways I can contribute to the world.
As I contemplate my "why," I seek answers to profound questions: What moves me? Where do I want to make a difference in the world? Who do I want to impact? This process is not just a series of ponderings; it is an opportunity for self-reflection that can change the trajectory of my life.
Simon Sinek's Perspective
One of the most influential voices in the realm of finding my "why" is Simon Sinek, a renowned speaker with a TED Talk that has resonated with millions. Sinek emphasizes the significance of understanding my purpose and how it is deeply intertwined with the impact I can have on society. He leads you through a transformative process that asks you to consider our "why" as the core of your existence.
Sinek's powerful narrative prompts you to operate from a space of deep understanding and purpose. This, he asserts, can have a profound influence on my life and the lives of those I touch. Sinek's message resonates with the idea that your "why" is your guiding star, illuminating your path with a sense of clarity and direction.
The Fields of Impact
In the realm of making a difference, there is a diverse landscape of fields I can venture into. I recognize that many of my listeners have chosen to work with children, families, and youth. For some, this may be just a job, while for others, it might be a calling. However, regardless of how I perceive my role, understanding my "why" can serve as a powerful catalyst for transformation.
For those who consider their work as a stepping stone towards their true purpose, knowing their "why" can provide the motivation and resilience required to navigate the challenges. On the other hand, for those who believe that their current work is their true calling, the "why" becomes their daily inspiration, fueling them with a sense of purpose.
The Transformative Power of Self-Reflection
As you embark on this journey of self-reflection to discover your "why," consider that "It really does make a difference in how you get up in the morning." There is a profound distinction between going to a job to collect a paycheck and waking up with a clear sense of purpose. When I understand my "why," it transforms my daily existence from mere survival to living with intention.
In a world filled with distractions and the chaos of everyday life, this process of self-reflection offers me an opportunity to go deep within myself. It encourages me to pause, to contemplate, and to ask those fundamental questions that often remain unexplored. It is not a one-time revelation; it is a journey that unfolds and evolves as I do.
The Impact on Leadership
Understanding my "why" is not only crucial for my personal fulfillment but also for my growth as a leader. It empowers me to lead with authenticity, passion, and a deep sense of purpose. When my leadership is driven by a clear "why," it resonates with those I lead, creating a ripple effect of inspiration and motivation.
As a leader, my role extends far beyond directing and managing. I become a source of guidance and influence for my team and community. When my leadership is rooted in my "why," I can inspire others to find their own sense of purpose. It becomes a transformative process that transcends the boundaries of my immediate role.
Knowing my "why" is not just an abstract concept; it is a profound journey of self-discovery, self-actualization, and transformation. It is an opportunity to find the true meaning of my existence and to make a difference in the lives of others. Whether I am just starting this introspective journey or have been on it for a while, it is a continuous process that evolves and grows with me.
Simon Sinek's message echoes in my ears, "Start with why." The "why" is not just a starting point; it is the guiding star that illuminates my path as a leader, a difference-maker, and, most importantly, as a human being.
As I continue to explore my "why," remember that it is not just for me but for the world I inhabit. It is the key to a life filled with purpose, impact, and fulfillment. So, take the time to reflect, understand, and live your "why," and watch as it transforms you into a leader who can change the world.
SONIA M. TOLEDO, PhD, founded Dignity of Children® in 2008 to develop children and youth holistically and reduce education inequality. She has a PhD in education and 25-plus years of experience building quality after-school programs. She focuses on emotional intelligence training, youth development, and organizational culture change. Dignity of Children® serves after-school programs nationally, providing exceptional child and youth development training programs.