Originally published on inc.com.
I was recently asked a question about how our organization found its “why.” I truly believe that this is one of the most important questions an organization needs to ask itself. Successful organizations are not built overnight — they evolve over time thanks to passionate people who are all working toward a common goal that they truly believe in. What is that goal? What is your why, and does it align with that of your company?
I graduated high school as a C-student. I was an underachiever with no real plan. I jumped at the opportunity to sell insurance when a friend told me his employer didn’t require a resume.
I sold Medicare supplement products to seniors. Despite poor training and working strictly for a commission, I went to work with an unsurpassed enthusiasm believing that I was really helping people. When I learned we were charging the same premiums to wealthy seniors and Medicare eligibles as we were to seniors and Medicare eligibles on fixed incomes, I quit my job within two weeks. I liked the industry, but I wanted to do what was in the best interest of the consumer.
After that, I started selling home, auto and business insurance — but the company I worked for cut my pay by 50 percent after just a few weeks. I quit immediately and began contemplating a career change. I had just started my resume-writing process when it hit me like a ton of bricks: The insurance industry was not at fault; I had just put my faith in people who had created this unfortunate experience. I decided right then and there that I was going to change the insurance experience both for the agents and the consumers.
While the details of my experience are unique to me, I hope young entrepreneurs can see the value in understanding their why. Ask yourself: Does your current position speak to your why? If not, what can you do about it? For me, it was staying within my industry and working to change it. For you, it may be switching to an entirely new field, but you have to know what your why is before you can act on it.
Once I realized that my why was helping people, and understood that changing the insurance industry could help me achieve that, I decided I was going to start an agency like no other. I started my company to offer comprehensive training and marketing and always choose morals over profits.
When I began, I barely had $5,000 in the bank and zero business leadership experience. I knew the odds were stacked against me, but I needed to do it. Today, I am in awe of how many people have joined me on this journey and how they all truly believe that our why is important and worth overcoming the roadblocks that we face on a daily basis. Without finding my why, I wouldn’t be helping thousands of seniors and Medicare eligibles every year. I wouldn’t be allowing agents to join me in serving the underserved. I wouldn’t be happy with my career.
To answer the question, “How do you find your why?” I don’t think you ever really do. I think your why finds you. The problem is that most people don’t listen to what they are truly called to do. I knew that this was my calling and nothing was going to get in my way.
So if your “why” finds you, how can you encourage that to happen? Look at your current professional role and decide:
Are you happy? Are you taking steps toward achieving your life goals? Could you be doing more? Is your professional life impacting your personal life? If so, is it positive or negative? What makes you happy? What are your big picture life goals?
If you can answer those questions for yourself, you’ll be that much closer to figuring out your why.
– Jeff Pitta