One of the parts of the INFER process is the idea of finding out the other person’s “Epic Journey”. This is where you get to find out how they got from where they were to where they are now. This is the series of questions you are going to ask which allows them to be the star of the show.

This is also a good question to ask of yourself now and again. Except, in your own case, the “how?” question isn’t as important as the “why?”

Now, by “why” I don’t mean just “to make money”. There are a lot of ways to make money out there and many of them are easier than the one you chose. I also don’t mean some sort of sanitized-for-public-consumption version of your reasons — like the real estate agent who says “I like to help young families get their first home”. What I am talking about is the real, underlying reasons. The ones that are in your deepest heart, possibly rooted in pain and loss. The motivating, emotional reason you chose this path and not a different one.

Why would you want to know this?

Well, a the very minimum, examining this will help you ask yourself if you are really doing the right thing. If your underlying reason for pursuing a career in law was because you have a strong sense of justice caused by your family being robbed at Christmas one year, then you may suddenly realize that following a path into contract law may not lead you to happiness no matter how lucrative it is.

Another benefit of having examined this is for motivation when the times are tough. Seth Godin has a concept that he calls “The Dip“. It’s that period after you start a project, or a career, or a business, when things aren’t going so well. Obstacles seem to be hindering your every move and you are tempted to just give up. Truly great organizations and entrepreneurs have to be able to push through that time to reach the success on the other side. Knowing your underlying motivation will help during those dark times.

If you are considering doing any sort of presentation, you not only need to know that underlying reason, but you have to be willing to share. If you’ve ever seen a really good motivational speaker, they will almost inevitably start their presentation with how they had to go through these dark times — how those times contributed to wanting to help educate others today. That vulnerability makes them approachable, likable, and authoritative. Cultivating the story behind what you do can do the same thing for you — even if you only have an audience of two and not two hundred.

So, that’s why you should figure out your “why”. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at “how”.