Why Your Why Is Important
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” — Viktor E Frankl
In all honesty, I struggled to know how to get started on writing under this quote. Not because I didn’t believe it - in fact the complete opposite. This quote by Frankl is such a powerful one for me personally; I almost struggle to put into words how it affects, helps and resonates with me. I believe a large element of that is not just the words themselves but the words from the mouth, mind and soul of a man who suffered such difficulties and sorrow, that I for one could not even imagine. Yet this simple statement is probably what got him through every single day of his traumatic experiences. I bow to him and all others who suffer through such terrible horrors.
I guess the simpleness of the statement and the power that reverberates from it are at differing ends of the scale but still work in such harmony. The statement cannot be disputed. He is not making a black and white definition - there is a get-out clause. By having that option available, one tends to feel even more determined to not utilise it.
I am also a ‘why’ person. Ever since I was a child, I was always asking that question. My desire to know everything about anything would have no doubt been too much at times, but I am a great believer in the power of knowledge; for me to know why creates the platform or starting point to consider the how. I still have that mentality today. One of my specialities is helping teenagers find their voice in a positive way and when I ask them to explain something to me, I immediately follow up with “why?” or “how?” and I humour myself (hopefully the teenagers too) by saying, “whenever you are communicating, always think of my voice in your head and follow up your comment by saying why or how, and if you don’t know why or how then find out.” This is what makes life more interesting and can be helpful in finding ways to deal with difficult times or to be heard in an understanding way.
I guess the other reason Frankl’s words are so powerful to me is because there have been times where I have picked through every word of that statement in order to help myself get through a difficult and dark moment. Ironically, never once during my difficult moments did I read that quote and belittle myself. I never used the mentality of “what have you to feel down about? Look at this man - he had far more reason to be in a dark place than you ever will.” To be honest, it never even resonated with me in that way. Instead, it allowed me to really bring it back to basics; to think about why I live. At some of my most difficult times, I realised that I had lost the vision of ‘why’ and by sitting with this statement, it allowed for all the other negativity and chatter to subside so I could purely focus on my ‘why’. By reconnecting with that, it allowed me to anchor it instead of feeling completely out of control, and from that I could then start looking at how I was going to live - and not just live but live better.
I also struggled to start writing about this quote because, as a good coach should, I try to not make my work about me. On reflection, I am a human first and then a coach. Once I accepted I couldn’t be impartial on giving my personal insights and how this particular quote resonates so much with me, I found I could express a lot easier. So to those of you who were looking for some impersonal guidance, I hope you still managed to find something in here to help you and for those of you who enjoyed reading my personal views - I thank you.
Being the ‘why’ person that I am, I am incredibly keen to hear anyone else’s views on Frankl’s quote so I can learn more about your perceptions. Please comment here, or on my Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts or if you aren’t comfortable with your view being public, you are welcome to email me through my contact tab here on my website.
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