Put “who” before “how”, and you’re off to a great start
Most of my articles start with “How to”, because of what I noticed in myself: I’m always looking to find out “how” to do certain things, from recipes to writing to dog training.
We are living in an age of information overflow, but information doesn’t equal solutions.
What’s worse, information automatically turns our brains on, and if we are not careful, we are very likely to become overthinking machines.
That’s how all the stress and anxiety start. That’s why we feel we are being led by the nose. That’s why we feel suppressed, unhappy, and lost.
If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage to you stop “figuring out” and start “becoming”. Here’s why:
“How-to”s are endless. “Who” is the centerpiece.
I don’t know how many “how-to”s are out there, but this number is going to be so huge that no one can get to the bottom of it.
If you are always trying to figure things out, what would happen? You would be dragged into this bottomless pit and drown.
But if you focus on the “who” — who you are and what your core values are, you will find that all those endless “how”s are pointing towards one direction — they serve YOU.
Simon Sineks’ Golden Circle, a model for leadership, explains it in the simplest way.
The core idea is that people don’t buy “what” you do, they buy “why” you do it. We can replace the “why” with the “who”, and this model still applies.
Better still, we can add a circle of “who” in the circle of “why” — because your purpose comes from your identity.
“How-to” is a fix. “Who” is the end goal.
If you want quick, short-term results, you will always be on the lookout for “how-to”s. A problem arises, you fix it. Another problem arises, you fix it. You are constantly fixing problems.
While we all need to do the fixings from time to time, they are only short-term solutions. They serve the purposes at the moment, but may not have any significant long-term impact.
People are so drawn to the “how-to”s, because they are quick and easy, and they have a proven track record.
For the same reason, however, it is also very easy to get lost in the “how-to”s.
Fixing problems can give us a sense of achievement, an “adrenaline pump” that feels very good. It’s intoxicating, and a lot of people chase that feeling.
If you are a problem fixer, ask yourself this question: “ To what end am I doing this?”
The ultimate end goal is always about your life purpose and who you are. If the fixes are not means to this end, why do we still keep fixing?
“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.” — Stephen R. Covey
“How-to”s are external. “Who” comes from within.
How many of us let external circumstances define us? How many of us give away our power to people and things we cannot control? How many of us let achievements determine our self-worth?
When you find yourself exhausted by the endless “how-to”s, ask yourself this question: “Am I looking for external validation?”
The moment we start to look for external validation is the moment we start to get lost.
Because the truth is: You get to define yourself. Not your job, your boss, your partner, or your bank account. Just YOU.
When you can shift your focus from the external “how”s to the internal “who”, you will experience a major shift in your relationship with yourself.
All the things that used to bother you will start to dissipate, because they don’t define you. They are not parts of you.
No man is free who is not master of himself. — Epictetus
You’ll be surprised how much easier life will become once you start focusing on your relationship with yourself.
When you stop hyperfocused on the “how”s, but divert your consciousness to your inner being, you are beginning to live a life that is true to you.