I don’t mean to sound dramatic. I really don’t. And this isn’t one of those rhetorical, “Gee don’t I sound smart because I’m asking this question, but I really don’t want you to answer” kinds of things. I am seriously, truly, to the bottom-of-my-heart asking myself (and you) the question: Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
I’ve asked this question to people at various times in the past – for real – and heard answers such as:
- If I don’t, I won’t get paid and I like the thought of keeping my house.
- Because it’s what I do. I can’t sleep more than nine hours.
- The kids need breakfast.
- What do you mean, exactly?
- Who are you, and why are you standing in my kitchen at 6:30a?
You see, for a long time I had a job that required me to get out of bed and go to an office and interact and create with lots of people and move projects forward and such. Now, growing a business requires a lot of free-form thought, a lot of coordination of moving pieces, and a lot of focused thinking, but no one is telling me when I have to be where and why. It becomes much (MUCH) more important to be able to answer the question: why did I get out of bed this morning?
I love that Ben Franklin asked himself each morning, “What good shall I do today?” and that in the evening he reflected on, “What good did I do today?” These are important questions. But in the midst of a world that’s in turmoil, an economy that’s struggling, consumerism that’s out of control, and a growing skepticism/cynicism that threatens to undo much of what is great about our culture, I think many of us are wrestling with whether the amount of good we can do will even matter in the grand scheme of things.
But I believe it does. I really do. I have to. And I believe that it’s more important to be acting on a mission each day than it is to even see that mission fulfilled in my life. Seeing a mission fulfilled is a privilege, not a right. I believe that a lot of small pushes against a rock will eventually move it. (And banging your head seems to work REALLY well.)
Why do I get out of bed? I love to fire people up. I love to see them unleashed. I love to think that I’m helping someone pursue a passion or make a contribution. I sometimes dream that a person I inspire to take their contribution to the world seriously will cure a disease or craft a solution to a vexing social problem. That’s my “why”. It’s about freedom.
And in truth, I take a lot of bullets for it at times. No one shoots at people cowering in the trenches, only at the people who engage by poking their head up. But here’s the thing: if you cower in the trenches, you’ll eventually get taken out anyway and in a much more shameful manner. I’d rather go down fighting for what I believe in, aggressively.
I get out of bed in the morning because I’m on a mission to free people and unleash their brilliance. That’s my “why”, and I love it. (I just have to remind myself occasionally, when things get difficult.)
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