The Core Story: Connecting to Your “Why”
For all time, people have been looking heavenward and asking, “Who am I? Who are we? Why are we here? What is my role in that story?” This is the Core Story, the ever-present narrative that runs throughout our lives. The CS is most prominent at times of transition: in childhood, as we transition to adolescence, and again as we fall in love, mate and marry. It is on our minds as we consider our careers, as well, if we are fortunate enough to contemplate the distinctions between jobs and work, between obligations to survive and opportunities to thrive. Such spiritual reflections also return at various pauses in the road, as we consider job changes or new career choices, or moving to new communities and the impacts on ur families and relationships. And, of course, the CS is present as we age and contemplate the ends of our lives, now asking those same questions from the perspective of experience and, hopefully, some wisdom.
In his excellent books and talks on the topic, Simon Sinek asserts that our Core Stories need to “Start With Why,” (TEDx, 2006, and subsequent book, 2009) rather than our usual patterns that start with What we do and How we do it. “Why” is at the core of our purpose, the way we reveal the vast meaning of our Intention in the world. For some of us, the CS is huge in scale and ambition, like seeking to eradicate poverty. But for most of us, it revolves around our more immediate circles of influence, such as our family and community. In a workplace context, the CS arouses our passions to produce an outstanding product of great value to others, or to deliver a service that recipients regard highly and that our colleagues tremendously respect.
Exercise: What do you currently understand to be your Core Story? One way to access this information is to consider WHY you are living your life… your deeper sense of Purpose, then WHAT you have done or planned to do in order to fulfill this purpose, and then HOW you try to engage in activities that support what you do and why you do it. Find a space where you can take time to reflect, journal, paint, or otherwise clarify your CS as it now expresses itself. We are all “works in progress,” so please try not to expect perfection… this is a first draft.
Then: Discuss your responses with a trusted friend or colleague. (Indeed, you may both do this exercise and share your stories with one another).
Then: Reflect more fully on the connection of your activities to your purposeful work (from a previous Exercise) and your own evolving Core Story… what does it tell you? What might be meaningful to incorporate into your day, or at least into some aspects of your week?