Why Do You Do What You Do?

Why does Jeff Bezos start his senior leadership team meetings in silence?

Why does Tom Brady spend voluminous hours studying film of his opponents?

Why does world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman continue to practice eight hours per day after playing professionally for 50 + years?

Why does Taylor Swift still take voice lessons?

We each do what we do because we believe that something beneficial will happen. Jeff Bezos starts his meetings in silence to create an environment that fosters laser focus and critical thinking. Tom Brady studies film to find one weakness in his opponent to win the game. For Itzhak Perlman and Taylor Swift it is to be the absolute best musicians they can be.

Why do you do what you do? That question was asked of me recently by a friend after I mentioned that I was asked to speak at an event in Seattle called The Great Conversation in Security. My friend knows I’m not an expert in security and wanted to know what I would say to an audience of Chief Security Officers.

I told my friend that the reason why I speak is simple. I speak in the hopes of making a positive difference in a leader’s success at work and satisfaction at home. I also paraphrased Chicago Evening Post journalist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne who said, “I speak to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In other words, I speak to help an audience think in ways that are both uncomfortable and rewarding.

Why do you do what you do? Can you clearly articulate why you do what you do professionally or personally? If that question seems cumbersome or unwieldy, here’s a suggestion about how to get to your answer.

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