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What Is Your Why?

What Is Your Why?

“The Two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out WHY. “

— Mark Twain

I just climbed one of the biggest mountains in Bali, Indonesia this weekend.  We set out at 12:30 am in the dark of the night, prepared to make the trek up Mount Batur which is an active volcano located at the center of Bali. There were 18 of us who bundled in taxis and we reached the base of Batur around 3 am.

The climb in the dark with no more than a guide, flashlight and shimmer from the stars, began rather simply but increasingly became more difficult. It got really steep at times, and the atmosphere was very cold and wet – causing me to slip a few times. My back was hurting like crazy and my left hamstring (which I’d injured before the trip) stung like hell every time I put weight on it. I tried using my right leg more, only to discover that caused it to be overworked and the pain increased.

As I walked slower than usual, I realized that the injured hamstring was not by accident. Through this injury I was not in my normal position as leader of the pack. I was in a place where I could observe which was very different and the lessons began to come clear.  I had to see what it was like to be at the back, not bounding up chatting and laughing like I usually do, whilst wondering why the other people were taking so long. This time it was me at the back needing help. And I thought, “Help me?  Never!”

But this trek challenged my mind and body.  There was a moment when I thought I could be stuck on this mountain. I knew I would get to the top, but it was taking so much concentration and energy.  And then I began to think about how difficult or impossible it might be to descend with my sore back and bum leg.  I had to adjust my thinking and stay focused because my energy was fading.

Once at the top, it was exhilarating.  We watched the sun rise, enjoyed an awesome view in good company, and had hot chocolate, a warm banana bread snack and an egg.  My energy returned and I felt renewed knowing I’d reached the top and confident that if I could do that through all the pain, I could definitely climb back down.  With this renewed focus, I was the first one back down by about 30 minutes, but even though that was a great accomplishment, it wasn’t the real lesson I took away.

The real lesson was in climbing a difficult terrain in the dark of the night having faith that each step would be on a rock and not down the volcanic flow. It was pushing through the pain individually, but having a team supporting and uplifting me through their patience and encouragement. Finally, it was in understanding that even the small hand of a child guide, could lead me and teach me the most valuable lesson of all – taking one step at a time and enjoying the journey instead of rushing to the destination.

I’m in Bali to rediscover my WHY and answer the question that I’ve asked myself everyday of my life “Why do you wake up every morning?”

Bali has taken me away from the noise and grind of the “do more, be more, have more, spend more and party more” state of mind that we have in Southern California.  Our reputation spans the world because even my teammates here from other countries know that Southern California Orange County is a place of drive, determination and perfection. But I ask each of us, does this drive make us feel happier or on purpose?  I would say “No.”

With the utmost respect for the work ethic – because we know the habits and the work allow us access to live the lives we live – I definitely feel a bit lost. I’m doing all the right things, hitting my goals and living the life many dream of, but does it truly inform me “WHY?”  

Well, Deb and I have come here to figure that out in a quieter place where we can be still and map out what the future holds.  It’s not an “Eat, Pray, Love” thing.  It’s just a journey to discover the WHY without any expectations.

People connect with you for your WHY so it’s no surprise that more and more people are asking this question. The time for what and how are less important. So far I’ve learned that part of my addition to my original WHY is in the journey – thus the bum leg slowed me down so that I could enjoy it.

My WHY?  I get up every morning to help and inspire people to be better than they thought they could be. Not just in business, but life, health, relationships and spirit. It’s an exciting journey.

The late Steve Jobs said to a graduating class at Stanford, “Death is the conclusion of life. Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Don’t settle.  Go follow your WHY.

What’s your WHY?

Ralph Harris

Ralph Harris | Editor, ralphharris@thehomemag.com

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