Start with Why

July 12, 2018

by LIOR ZOREF @lior

I returned recently from a lecture in Barcelona. I wrote this update on the flight while reading the book ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek (a longer version of his TED talk).

The book suggests that everyone should think and find his or her “why”. Why do we do what we do? I invite you to read my answer and think about your answer to this meaningful question.

When I was a child, as a nerd, I was an outsider most of the time. I was bullied often and had almost no friends. My grades were below average in all subjects except for Computer Science. I thought that I wasn’t smart. Everyone around me kept saying that in order to succeed in life, I would need to improve my grades, so I didn’t believe that I could become successful one day. I thought that I didn’t have friends because something about me was wrong. In adolescence it intensified. I was afraid of my own shadow.

I was angry at my parents who kept telling me, “Why are you alone all the time? Go have fun with some friends”. I was ashamed to tell them that I was not popular and barely had any friends. I was ashamed to tell them that I spend hours in front of the computer because I have nothing else to do. I was afraid to hit on girls because “who would want a boyfriend as unsuccessful as me?” On weekends, I knew my classmates were going out, but I stayed home, in front of the computer. I enjoyed learning programming alone, but at the same time I was sad to be alone. I was afraid of everything – friends, girls, my parents, my teachers. And most of all, I was afraid of myself.

As an adult, having seen that nothing I do can fundamentally change the way I feel, I went through therapy. Gradually I gained the confidence to try new things. To do more of the things I like to do. To follow my dreams. Like any significant process, it took time. Twenty years passed, from the time I was a lonely child until I found myself happily married, with 3 amazing children and a lab, surrounded by friends – some of whom are practically soul mates and others are more like acquaintances (“weak ties”, for those who have heard me talk about this topic).

But the little boy I was, is still alive within me. How could it be that my perception of reality was so wrong? How could I have thought I was stupid? That I would never have a relationship? That I would not succeed in life? How did I let fear rule me for so many years? How could it be that nobody recognized my emotional stress and didn’t offer any help? Aren’t there any other people living in a similar situation? If they do exist, I must talk to them. And when I meet them, I will share with them my story and maybe their perception of reality will change. Perhaps they will be able to change their lives or the course of their children’s lives as a result. This desire I have is the force that drives me to do everything I do.

Today I make a living from lectures on collective intelligence and advising organizations that use it as a tool for innovation and solving big challenges. But the reason for everything I do is this fixed idea I have, a kind of obsession, to encourage young people with difficulties to believe in themselves, not give up on their dreams, not let fear rule their decisions. To understand that people who tell them that they have no chance of doing what they really want are talking nonsense. Hard work, persistence and learning from failure will lead them to success even if it seems irrational to them now.

So that is the answer to the big “Why” question – Why do I do what I do.

Do you have an answer to this question? Find tools to help you discover the answer in this link and of course, watch Simon’s TED talk on the subject in this link.

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