What is your “Why”? (And how is it holding you back?)

Dean PohlmanBlogs, Off The Mat, From Dean, Lifestyle & Wellness2 Comments

What is your Why? And how is it holding you back?

Do you know your Why?
Taking a step back, do you know what a “why” is?

Here’s why knowing this will be helpful for you:

In addition to having an endless source of intrinsic motivation – think of the rush you can get from a good caffeine shot; wouldn’t it be nice to have that on command, without any side-effects? – you’ll also be able to peel back the layers on the habits you’ve subconsciously created to limit your own success and personal development.

Now I know at this point you might be thinking to yourself,

“Hold on, Dean. You’re saying that I’m limiting my own success? Why would I do that? You make no sense.”

That’s what I thought, too. But hang on, we’re going to get there. And to answer your question –

YES. That’s EXACTLY what I’m saying.

Understanding your why can help you understand the actions you take [against yourself] to prevent you from reaching your full potential.

What is your Why? And how to use for personal development

Let me tell you the story of how I figured out my why.

And before you think, “Oh my god, Dean, I don’t care about how you found your why”, let me tell you that I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing this for YOU, so that you can understand how POWERFUL this personal growth process can be and what all can come from it.

And at the end of this, you’ll know EXACTLY how to do this for yourself.

The week before last I was finishing up a conference in San Diego. It was the third day, and my brain was pretty much fried. If you’ve been to a conference or summit like I’m describing for work, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I didn’t have a lot of motivation to see many more speeches, and my notes were getting more and more selective.

I had to leave the conference early to catch my flight home, but I had time to see one more talk. Dean Graziosi was giving another presentation, and even though the topic seemed pretty familiar (7 Must-Dos for Building Your Business), I had seen Dean at an earlier talk, and I knew he would crush it.

(Plus, his name was Dean, and I enjoyed pretending that the person introducing Dean Graziosi was actually talking about me.)

I had no intention of taking notes – I was just going to show up and enjoy it. It was just another marketing presentation – how great could it be?

It was far beyond what I expected.

As soon as he started talking, my notebook flew open. When I wasn’t transfixed by his presentation, I was scribbling notes as fast as I could. He wasn’t talking about marketing. He was giving the foundations of self-development, including strategies from the most successful people in the world – including Richard Branson.

Now there wasn’t much in this speech I hadn’t heard before. Dean even said at the beginning of the presentation that these probably wouldn’t be novel ideas for any of us.

But just like watching a movie, you notice something new every time you re-watch it. And for me, that happened when he got the importance of your “why”.

Oh great. Are we finally getting to the point?

Easy. We’re getting there. ūüôā

The whole “why” thing is nothing new.

If you’ve followed my content for a while now, you’ll be familiar with this concept. The whole “why” thing is nothing new. In the 21st century, it was popularized by Simon Sinek with his book, Start With Why. But before then, Jim Collins wrote about it in Built To Last in the 1990s. Steven Covey covered it in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in the 1980s.

Dean even mentioned that this isn’t a novel concept, and that he was just giving his take on it.

His method for getting to your “why” was asking for the why of your why seven times, until you to get to that answer that evokes emotion so strong you’re crying when you say it aloud. (Tip: Get somebody you trust to do this with you if you want it to be really powerful.)

Maybe you’ve heard of this before, too. But for some reason, the next thing he said was like a giant light bulb turning on at full blast in my head.

He essentially gave me permission to make my why more personal. It didn’t have to be about my mission to help people be more fit.

It didn’t have to be about my desire to take care of somebody else. Your why revealed your greatest vulnerability. It was reflective of the deepest insecurities driving you to action.

And that’s when it dawned on me

My why is doing what I need to do so I NEVER have to feel insignificant.

That realization was POWERFUL. I wrote it down in my notebook, and I got up and left.

That was all I needed. I thought about it constantly for the rest of the day, the following day, and even the day after that. So much of what I do is driven by this insecurity. I realized it went a LOT deeper than I thought. By examining these insecurities, I came to the understanding that many of my habits were coping mechanisms that gave me excuses to feel insignificant.

For instance, instead of doing my hair and getting dressed well in the mornings, I might put on some old sweatpants, laugh at my unkempt hair, and go to work. I thought that I was making a statement, that I was telling people, “I really don’t care what you think I look like. I have a great job, I don’t need your approval, and I don’t need to dress up for work.”

What I did not realize was that I was essentially using my somewhat disheveled appearance as an EXCUSE for why I felt insignificant. I was lying to myself by saying, “You feel insignificant because you’re not dressed well”, but what I REALLY meant was –

“I feel insignificant, but instead of confronting that feeling honestly, I’m going to use dressing poorly as an excuse for feeling that way.” Mind. Blown.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this:

  1. Your why can be selfish.
  2. Your why should poke at the soft, squishy part of your emotions.
  3. If you think about your why, you should notice all of the ways it can motivate you forward – but also hold you back!

Upon further reflection, I realized that I was doing this in many other ways.

I keep the Man Flow Yoga office pretty spartan and functional. Sure, we could buy shelves for the 50+ yoga mats we have, but we don’t really need them. We could spruce up the place, but let’s save money instead.

I thought I was being thrifty – but I was really subconsciously holding myself back from success.

By not furnishing my office properly, I was creating an environment that said, “Hey you’re not failing anymore, but you’re never going to be as successful as those other [fitness] businesses.”

Again – my mind was truly blown.

I was subconsciously placing my self-limiting beliefs throughout my actions and even reinforcing it in my work environment.

I haven’t even begun to think about all the ways that this insecurity affects me, but I’ll be delving this into even more detail in the coming days.

But that reflection won’t be just thoughts – it will lead (and has already led) to action.

  • I’m getting rid of the grungy clothes I wear.
  • I’m making my office feel more professional.
  • I’m cleaning up my home environment to stop giving myself an excuse to feel less worthy than I want to be.

Still with me? If you are, you might be thinking a lot of things. Maybe you’re excited to try this process out for yourself. Maybe you’re thinking that this was a waste of time (I hope not).

Or maybe you’re thinking that the idea of me feeling insignificant is reflective of the insecurity that accompanies attention-seekers on Instagram; that the idea of me feeling insignificant to you, as a subscriber, reader, consumer, or customer of my content might seem a bit paradoxical.

“Why do you think you’re insignificant? You’ve got 50,000 subscribers on YouTube and you’ve published a book. That doesn’t make sense!”

Here’s the thing: None of my personal feelings of insignificance have anything to do with you or having a social media channel.

If you re-read this, you’ll remember that these are limiting beliefs that I’ve placed upon myself. No amount of likes, comments, shares, or book purchases – in other words, forms of external approval – are enough to overcome personal insecurities.

External support is helpful in the moment, but it isn’t a long-term solution. External support is also subject to the law of diminishing returns – the more we get it, the less we value it.

You also might be thinking that I’m writing this because I need your support: “Oh no, Dean has just figured out that he has feelings of insignificance, so he’s writing this because he wants our support.”

But if you’re thinking that, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Because if I’m being 100% honest, coming to this realization has left me nothing short of ecstatic.

I’m more hopeful than I’ve been in years. I finally understand my true source of motivation and what’s holding me back from being as successful as I want to be.

And I’m so excited to put this newly discovered personal realization into action.

Find Your Why! Here is a simple 3-step action plan.

  1. Figure out your why. Ask yourself “WHY” you do what you do 7x until you get to the answer that affects you so strongly on an emotional level that you feel like crying. If you need help getting to that emotional place, do it out loud with a parent, your child, or your spouse.
  2. Think about the ways your “why” affects your habits. What do you do that enables the continuation of this insecurity? What are the excuses you give yourself so you don’t have to deal with that vulnerability?
  3. Take action to address these insecurities. Change the habits you use to avoid feeling that painful emotion. CONFRONT them. Eliminate the things (and the people) in your environment that reinforce those insecurities.

Does this sound as potentially powerful for you as it has been for me? Do you already have your why? Will you now go deeper than your why to see how you’re limiting yourself?

I didn’t really understand the concept of limiting beliefs until recently. I still don’t think I’ve even scratched the service.

Logically, it doesn’t make sense. Emotionally, I’m still processing it. But I’m starting to. And I have incredibly high hopes for it.

I’m ready for change. I’m ready for growth. I’m ready for the next level.
Are you?

2 Comments on “What is your “Why”? (And how is it holding you back?)”

  1. Start with Why is one of my favourite books, I think it’s crucial to discover the Why in all walks of life, business, fitness etc. I haven’t read Build to last yet, though, will check that out. Thanks for sharing this!

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