The Gustavian Weekly

The Four W’s | The Gustavian Weekly

By Colin Rieke Opinion Columnist | January 23, 2015 | Opinion

How will you answer the four W’s?

How will you answer the four W’s?

Colin_RiekeIf you are unclear whether you have purpose in this world, or if you find yourself lacking some sense of direction, I have a couple questions for you. My first question is:

What do you do?

Each and every one of us have at least one thing we do that comes naturally and effortlessly to us. Think about what you like to do or spend time doing. More importantly, think about what you do in relation to others. What you do is what you have to offer this world right here, right now. What you do is unique to you. What you do is an action or activity that benefits others because in doing so you are being yourself. And when you stay true to who you are you encourage others to do the same.

Take Victor, for example. He might be a chef, but at the same time he could consider bringing joy to others as what he really does, his real vocation. Being a chef is only a platform in which Victor can do what he cares about the most.

What you do is at the core of who you are; it shows what kind of person you are at your deepest level. Take a second right now in this moment to close your eyes. Now picture what it is that you do. Continue reading only after you have done this, and if you are still unsure what it is that you do maybe my next question will help:

Why do you do it?

There is a reason behind what you do, just as there is a reason for everything we do in our lives. If Victor’s “what” is bringing joy to other people, there is a reason why he does that. To determine the “why” behind your “what” you may have to give it some serious thought. You might have to retrace the past.

Why Victor brings joy to others could simply be because he’s good at it. It could be because that’s what he was taught. But there is more to the “why”. We need to go one step further and ask why Victor is good at it, or why he has taken to heart what he was taught. In discovering the “why” behind the “what,” we understand how personal the reason is for why Victor brings joy to others.

Perhaps Victor had no one to bring joy to him when he grew up, which is why he now wants to give back to others. If you have an idea of what your “why” is, then let me ask you another question:

Who do you do it for?

It is one thing to be aware of what your unique gifts are and to be aware of why you have them. It’s another thing to also have a clear sense of who your gifts benefit. Knowing who is impacted by what you do points you towards how you can effectively use your “what” in the world. You have been affecting certain people your entire life whether you realize it or not. But now being aware of who those people are could give you a heightened sense of purpose and direction.

The “who” does not necessarily have to be people. A group, movement, country, or an organization could be the beneficiaries of your “what.” Going back to Victor, he could very well be intending to bring joy to specific people, but he could also be aiming to impact the restaurant and entire city in a positive way.

While it’s important to consider the “who” behind your “what” and “why,” it’s just as useful to take a step back and address one more question:

Where are you right now?

Now that you have been introduced to the first three W’s it’s time to come full circle. Where are you in regards to the what, why, and who? Think about whether you have come up with your own “what.” Determine if you know why you do what you do. Figure out if you know who you do it for. Decide which of the first three W’s needs more clarification. Ask yourself whether you even have the desire to ask these questions. If you dare to ask yourself these questions you might realize the person you have been differs from the person you want to be.

Or if you’re still unclear on any of the first three W’s then I have one last question for you: Where do you want to be moving forward? If you ever get stuck think about the person you want to be in the future, then start the whole process of asking the first three W’s based on your future self.

If you’re unclear on the first three W’s; if you’re unsure on what your story has been; if you doubt whether your life story up to this point has been written, I have good news for you: you can start to write a new one.

All you have to do is grab a pencil, think about the four W’s, and start writing.

-Colin Rieke