“Life is our moments. We have an unknowable amount of them. All we know is once we spend them we can never get them back, and we can never get more.” – Michael Stegar
One of the leading questions I asked in a content marketing workshop I ran this week, was ‘Why does this business exist? Followed by ‘What do you see as its legacy?’, and ‘What problems do you solve for your customers?’
The big question is WHY?
Because we have to know our ‘why’ before we can know our ‘what, where, who, when and how’. We have to know ‘why’ to make meaningful moments, to make meaningful services, products, meaningful content and stories, meaningful connections with our customers. And while this is true for businesses, it’s also true for ourselves.
Michael Steger is a pyschologist who studies meaning in life – he researches what makes life meaningful. (How cool is that?)
His TED talk (see below), asks us to ponder how can we make our moments matter? Why are you here? And you don’t need to be having a mid life crisis to ask yourself this. I wish I had been asked to ponder this as a teenager, then again as a young adult. In fact, I believe it’s something that we should ask ourselves regularly. And not be afraid if we don’t know, or if that answer changes. It’s the process of asking ourselves provocative questions that stretches the vision we have for ourselves and our lives.
Michael outlines meaning as:
Purpose: The NEED to DO
Our vision, our aspirations, the anchor that we throw out to the future to guide us daily in our efforts.
Significance: The NEED to MAKE SENSE
The question is can we build powerful meaning that transforms our life and helps the lives of our shared future.
Does meaning matter?
YES! People who contemplate meaning in their lives and attach an anchor to it, cope with life better. When you have purpose and meaning you live longer, are less depressed, more connected and healthier. Meaning is a life and death matter.
Where do we find meaning?
Only you can find your purpose, no one can do it for you. Michael’s study asked students to take photos of things that are meaningful in their lives. One student took a photo of mountain with a lake and reported: ‘This picture represents the beauty of the world. Stopping and taking it all in helps make life meaningful.’ Another took a photo of a tractor, which represented his farming heritage and importance of feeding the human race. Michael points out meaning is around all around us all the time. We just need to contemplate it, connect to it and honour it.
This made be pause and consider my Instagram feed. And I wondered, is the stellar rise of such a photo sharing platform a way we discover or express meaning in our lives, and encourage others to share their meaning too? If we consider more deeply the collage of our lives we are creating through Instragram, would it give us more insights in our big ‘WHY?’
And finally in the talk Michael draws the distinction between LIVING a meaningful life versus GIVING a meaningful life. Goosebump moment time. That feels right doesn’t it? When we think about giving a meaningful life to others, it kinda defaults our own to a meaningful one too.
To me tragedy is a life (and marketing!) not considered – of not standing still long enough to dig deep into ‘Why?’
So this week is about asking the question of ‘Why?’
Watch Michael’s video here and ponder ‘Why?’ before ‘What’ in your life and your business. Because we only have so many moments.