Finding and holding onto your WHY

Earlier this week I had the privilege and pleasure of listening and then chatting with a young man called Matthew Ahmet. He’s 26 but with the attitude and sense of well being that you often don’t see in men and women until they are much older.

His story is fabulous and captivating but I couldn’t help thinking that he believes everyone can reach the same point he has. Like many writers and speakers and successful people I have met, they often tell you that they are nothing special, and that what they have achieved can be done by anyone.

I suppose I should explain a little about him before you all go off searching Google for him before you’ve finished reading! Matthew saw the Shaolin Monks performing in the Shaolin Wheel Of Life. He was 11. Shaolin seems to be the original founding place for all things Kung Fu and indeed martial arts in general (don’t quote me!).

Anyway, he decided right there and then that he wanted to go to China and go through the training to become a Shaolin monk. I won’t go into the details here but suffice to say he succeeded and now is a Shaolin warrior and teacher.

What came across as he spoke and as we chatted afterwards was the calm intensity (is that even possible?) of the man. He absolutely knew who he was, the path he was on and the goals he was moving towards. There was no doubt whatsoever in his mind. None.

Something that kept coming up was finding the WHY (your reason, your dream, your desire, your goals). The WHY that makes you put yourself through 4 very hard years of physical and mental hurt to become a Shaolin monk. Because that’s what he wanted down to the core of his being. There was no room for anything else. The decision was made back when he was 11. He had found his WHY. He wanted to be a Shaolin monk.

I suggested to him that one of the problems of modern life is distractions. He excitedly agreed and told me how he makes sure that distractions such as emails, texts and social media are not an ever present part of his life. Most of us today carry around a mobile smartphone, we have texts, Facebook, Twitter, emails coming through to our lives all day. We also have other distractions such as work and the way we organise our social life.

Why do I mention distractions? Distractions can be enough to side track you each day just a little bit from your WHY. Until at some point down the road you suddenly find that life seems harder than before, you don’t have quite the same excitement that you used to have for doing the things that help you reach your goals (your WHY).

Imagine a ship is setting course from the UK to New York and it’s 3,500 miles. The captain sets his course 1 degree out! Where will he end up? Now I’m not a naval person or even a pilot of an airplane but if every mile you travelled you were 100 feet off course that would amount to some way off your destination point (probably 50, 60, 70 miles!).

This is what distractions do to us. Assuming you have some sort of goals and WHY in the first place, distractions can be the little day to day things that mean you don’t attain what you wanted and start to feel deflated and down.

Back to Matthew Ahmet. He suggests that we need to:

1) Find and hold on to our WHY, and to

2) Avoid distractions in our lives.

How you do that is up to you of course. Each of us have different reasons for doing. Different goals we want to reach and different distractions as well.

One helpful hint Matthew recommended was to spend some time thinking and considering, and then write a list. He writes a list every day of his goals both long term and goals for that day. This I can see helps keep him focussed on the destination (his WHY) and keeps him exactly on course (not one degree off!).

What are you going to do about it? Whatever it is, do it now :-)