What IS your WHY?

I enjoy looking at snow.


Please note that I enjoy looking at it – not playing in it, driving in it or anything else in which my person has to physically interact with it. However, I enjoy watching the beautiful fluffy stuff through my window because it gives me peace.


Those of us in many southern and northeastern states were doused with several inches of snow. Some of us got a lot of ice and sleet and freezing rain. As for me, my Nashville yard received a nice wintery mix of snow, ice and rain. I’m fine with that. The weather gave me time to pause and reflect.


Eight days ago I had the pleasure to speak to Angelique Kidjo. Our conversation was very brief: I managed stammer out “Co..Congratulations,” and she graciously replied, “Thank you very much.” Still, it was an honor for me to speak to her.


Kidjo had just taught me a lesson. It was one I was happy to receive, and one I want to share with you.


Immediately before our interaction, Kidjo had completed the press rounds for her GRAMMY win in the Best World Music Album category for “Eve” – an album she dedicated to the women of her native motherland of Africa.


“Eve is an album of remembrance of African women I grew up with and a testament to the pride and strength that hide behind the smile that masks everyday troubles,” Kidjo said after accepting the award.


Kidjo was inspired to create “Eve” on a trip to Kenya when she listened to other women, and recorded their voices on her cell phone. She recorded more than 100 women, among them her own mother.


She said, “I wanted the world to see African women not only through the lens of rape and misery, but also from the musical point—their beauty, their resilience.”


Her words to a roomful of reporters – and a few overtired publicists like me – were moving. She said that she made music to celebrate women who suffer through atrocities many of us cannot fathom, and that she is happy her music is allowing those women to have a voice that would otherwise be silenced.


Ms. Kidjo’s WHY is a very simple one: to give a voice to the voiceless through music.


WHY do you do what you do?


I look at the snow fall because it’s peaceful. I write these blog posts because I love to share insights about life, business and communication with the hope that it will help you in some small (or big) way.


What is your WHY?


I was also moved by Jo-El Sonnier during the awards. Sonnier won his gramophone for “The Legacy,” a collection of a Cajun French original songs.


Sonnier, a Louisiana native, was exposed to music by his French-speaking, sharecropping father, who gifted him an accordion at age 3.


During his press rounds after his big win, he told the same room of reporters (and publicists) as Kidjo that he was inspired to pursue music by the other musicians in his culture who had done so. To him, performing his art is his way of paying homage to the musical greats before him. Hence, “The Legacy.”


“We had people who blazed the trail for people like myself. I had to take it up and not forget what they have done for us,” he said. “(The GRAMMY win is) everything that we’ve all been representing, from the great fathers and mothers who left us. What a great way to say ‘we haven’t forgotten’ and God is good.”


Mr. Sonnier’s WHY is also very simple: he’s doing something he loves and paying tribute to those who have inspired his life along the way.


The lesson?


Greatness comes to those who are focused on uplifting and serving others. Greatness comes to those who have set their sights on doing something that serves a purpose larger than their own interest. Greatness is having a clear idea of your WHY and then doing whatever it takes to pursue it.


Neither Ms. Kidjo or Mr. Sonnier are “famous” in America. While they might have won coveted awards during “music’s biggest night,” I’m willing to bet most people probably haven’t heard of them until now. In fact, both Kidjo and Sonnier’s awards were given during the Recording Academy’s Premiere Ceremony – the pre-telecast that streams live online in advance of the pop music focused glitz, glam and overproduction we see on television. Yet both artists are not concerned about when, how or even IF, they will receive awards. They’re too busy focused on being great. They’re too busy focused on fulfilling their WHY.


I want you to be great.


I want you to get crystal clear on your WHY.


That’s why I’m giving you a gift. I’m giving you my free worksheets on how to develop your WHY. These worksheets are taken from my signature online program, #LiveYourBrand, and they’ve been proven to help people get clear about why it is they’re doing what they do.


I hope you find them useful, and I hope they aid you in your process of being great.


Did you grab my Brand Success Planning Guide? It’s another FREE resource. Download it now.


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