Your Why - The Khuram Dhanani Blog
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Khuram Dhanani

Your Why

Mindset Matters

What makes you get out of bed in the morning? What’s the fire that’s burning inside you? What is the source of your desire, of your passion for life? What is it you want to prove, do, or become? What’s driving you? What is the most important thing in the world to you, the one thing that gets you all revved up, excited, and so engaged that you don’t even notice the time?

We’re talking about your life’s purpose. Sure, you love your wife or husband, you love your kids. You enjoy your hobbies, perhaps you like sports. That’s all well and good, but underneath all the wonderful things in your life, there is something else, something you do because it gives you deep joy and deep satisfaction. What is it?

Some people become successful and wealthy because they will do anything to escape the poverty of their childhood, to make sure their children never have to experience the squalor and depression of being desperately poor. 

Another person becomes an environmentalist because they lost an important part of their identity when the forest behind their childhood home was logged. 

Many actors only feel genuinely alive, empowered, and happy when an audience roars with approval at the end of a show, giving them the recognition they never had when they were younger. 

A young immigrant comes to the United States with his or her family after escaping an oppressive government and joins a human rights group to battle the tyranny and hopelessness they felt in their youth. 

A realtor never forgot the feeling of owning a home and being free of the fear of homelessness once suffered as a child. 

Each of these people has an unquenchable fire that demands courage, dedication, and persistence. These people only have one single choice, and that is to satisfy the fire that motivates them to be successful on whatever path they must walk.

“An unquenchable fire …” What is your unquenchable fire?

This is known as the WHY, and here’s an important insight:

When you have a big enough WHY

you will always figure out the HOW.

 The HOW is insignificant. When you make up your mind that nothing will stop you, then nothing will stop you. You’ll figure out the HOW. The key is that you make up your mind because it’s your mindset that determines how you live your life.

When you’re in business and committed to success, nothing will stop you. You’ll figure out what your website should look like and do, you’ll decide on the design, the brand, the revenue model, and the marketing. You’ll push past a dozen obstacles, ignore temporary failures, disregard the crowd of naysayers, consider and dispel your doubts, and open the door that has repeatedly been slammed in your face. None of this matters. These are all just distractions on your highway to success.

When your WHY is big enough, your determination to achieve you’re WHY will push you through. Nothing, nothing, is big enough, scary enough, or complicated enough to stop you. It simply can’t be done! Your WHY is bigger than King Kong and more powerful than a speeding locomotive! Whatever is in your way had better get out of your way because you’re going over it, under it, around it, or through it!

But here’s the thing: your WHY must be authentic to who you are as a person. It can’t be superficial. Your WHY is felt in the depths of your core. Your WHY is the foundation of the person you are. 

Your WHY is so deep and so dear that it will drive you to the achievement of your goal NO MATTER WHAT. Your WHY keeps you awake at night, is something you live with and sleep with and eat with and laugh with and cry with. It’s a part of you like your flesh and blood. Your WHY is the very essence of YOU.

You’ve heard the saying that “Many people die with their song unsung”. This is a huge tragedy, but YOU are determined to sing your song at the top of your voice from the peak of the highest mountain. Your WHY is the most important thing in your life. Without it, you’d be an empty, fading shadow.

There’s something else to consider, and it may be a danger. Most of us are fortunate to live reasonably abundant lives. The majority of us have jobs that help us keep a roof over our heads, food in the refrigerator, and the ability to see a doctor or dentist when we need one. We’re fortunate that our basic needs are met. However, having these blessings in our life can diminish the urgency of our WHY. When you don’t lack anything, or you haven’t experienced pain or trauma, it is sometimes more difficult to identify your WHY. Many great entrepreneurs experienced suffering when they were young, and this helped shape their determination and their WHY. 

We’ll examine the “7 Clicking Points” in a few chapters but in the meantime, let’s take a look at some WHYs. Perhaps these examples will guide you with identifying yours.

A strong WHY is not simply the desire to lose weight or get in shape. Those are both healthy goals that could help you feel better and live longer, but is this the purpose of your life? No!

Instead, consider the difference between getting in shape versus training for the Olympics. The degree of WHY is vastly more significant. 

Here’s another example: perhaps a loving parent died from heart disease and this tragic loss inspired you to become a physician so you could save lives and prevent others from feeling the sorrow that hurt you so deeply.

Some people already know their WHY while others may require extensive self-appraisal. Your WHY may expose your weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as reveal your strengths and capacities. This process of self-discovery can be very rewarding when you regard it as a step on your way toward your life’s fulfillment. Truly, what can be better than understanding your purpose in life? 

Well, yes, there is something better than that, and that’s doing something about it!

In your search for your WHY, be mindful that there are many mental and emotional processes constantly working in your subconscious mind, and some of these can contribute to self-sabotage. It may be hard to believe, but many people fear success, have a poor self-image that makes them afraid of what others think, or were taught that becoming wealthy is morally wrong. These kinds of thoughts and the feelings that accompany them are constantly running messages below the surface of our conscious mind and can undermine us and block us from being brave enough and clear enough to claim our WHY. 

Take some time and dig through the content of your mind and your beliefs to identify and eliminate the impediments that may be lingering in your subconscious mind. Seek professional counseling if you think a trained professional can help you accelerate your progress. Confront the obstacles that may be holding you back, which are probably beliefs you accepted as a child and no longer have merit. Humans are creatures of habit and it’s not uncommon to allow old beliefs to remain in your subconscious mind and limit your potential. These old tapes could even be limiting your ability to recognize your WHY. 

Once you find your WHY, you’ll feel powerful emotions rising to the surface from deep within. Discovering your purpose in life is very moving and will probably make a huge impact on the way you’re living your life today. You may even find that this knowledge brings you to tears. This is much better than never knowing your WHY and being in tears for lack of knowledge!

At this point, you now understand that your WHY is not something superficial like a giant mansion, a Rolex, Ferrari, or a transitory status symbol. Before now you may have thought the symbols of wealth were your WHY, but they aren’t. These are external material objects that provide only a temporary ego boost. Once you attain them, then what? Do you need two, five, or 10 Ferraris? The Ferrari may drive you around town but it’s not what drives you inside.

When you find you’re WHY you become unstoppable. Your WHY gives your actions a purpose, and this purpose crowns you with the faith and confidence to push past impossibly difficult barriers. Nothing can stand against you when you are motivated by the power of your WHY. You’ve heard it before: You can do anything you want to do when you put your mind to it.

If you don’t have a purpose behind what you’re doing, it will be tough for you to get back up and try again when you meet with failure, and it’s no secret that you will meet failure a lot. The desire for wealth or fame by itself is not enough to motivate a person sufficiently. it’s the underlying reasons for the wealth or fame, or any other desired end, that is the true source of the unquenchable fire that’s igniting your desire and fueling your power to succeed. Your success comes from within. Find this core and your success is guaranteed. It’s there, inside you, waiting to be discovered and then put to work.

Your WHY is your purpose, and it gives you the unstoppable ability to endure hardship, it creates the determination to figure things out, and fires up the persistence to keep going until success, as you define it, is yours. 

Your WHY is the birth of your life’s true passion, and it is the most essential factor for entrepreneurial success. Your WHY is the rocket fuel that will take you to the moon.

The Purpose-Driven Business

Some people assume entrepreneurs go into business with the single goal of becoming wealthy, but in the case of some of today’s most successful companies, this belief could not be further from the truth. 

Many businesses get their start by solving a problem that an entrepreneur feels extremely passionate about. The companies themselves, in these cases, exist for reasons that are greater than simply making their founders wealthy or creating an ROI for investors.

Read these three examples of highly successful and contemporary businesses that were created by entrepreneurs who found their WHY.

Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard when he built a website called thefacebook.com, originally intended only to rate the sexual attractiveness of fellow students. After quite a bit of outrage, drama, and threats of expulsion for security breaches and privacy violations, Zuckerberg transitioned the site into a directory that featured photos and the basic personal information of Harvard students. A year later, he expanded the site to include 21 other universities, and then he opened the website to the general public, aged 13 and older. Three years after launching, Facebook had 100 million users and more than a billion subscribers within eight years. 

Zuckerberg didn’t start the project with the intention of turning his idea into a business. His initial purpose was only to entice students with a humorous and engaging topic of interest to young adults. 

Zuckerberg’s vision expanded from helping students connect with each other to connecting the whole world. From the very beginning, he knew his WHY … it was to help people build and maintain interpersonal connections. This is still clear in Facebook’s mission statement: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

As Facebook grew, Zuckerberg became the world’s youngest billionaire. It’s clear that he genuinely enjoyed the process of accomplishing his vision. He even turned down $10 billion acquisition offers from companies like Friendster, Google, Viacom, and Yahoo.

Zuckerberg resisted monetizing the platform for years; he didn’t want to run ads because he felt it would ruin the user experience. His vision of making the world more open and connected is what drove Facebook’s early growth, not a desire for fame or fortune. Fame and fortune were only a byproduct of a powerful WHY.

Spotify

Spotify, a Swedish-based music streaming service, is another company that grew because of the founder’s passionate interest in a special cause. Daniel Ek wanted to put an end to music piracy.

Before Spotify, at the age of 18, Ek was the owner of a website development company with a team of 25 engineers and designers. Before long, he was earning around $50,000 per month, bribing students from his classes to work on client websites in exchange for video games.

Later, he started an online advertising company called Advertigo which he later sold to TradeDoubler. After that, he became the CEO of uTorrent, which was eventually sold to BitTorrent, one of the biggest music piracy platforms.

Ek found himself passionate about the technology of peer-to-peer networks. Recognizing that the music industry was losing money to piracy because they had failed to embrace this new technology, he started Spotify to leverage the convenience of streaming music to attract people away from supporting piracy.

Although royalty payouts are minimal for artists (less than $0.005 per play), record labels see massive payouts from the Spotify platform. The major labels and publishers get 70% of any revenue Spotify takes in.

The platform has taken the world by storm, attracting over 345 million monthly active users and 155 million paid subscribers. Subscription revenue, combined with several rounds of funding at high valuations, made Ek and his co-founder’s billionaires.

The success of Spotify is a result of Ek’s WHY … ending music piracy by creating a better alternative.

Apple

Steve Jobs became a famous and successful entrepreneur by building Apple into one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak started the company because they wanted personal computers to be available for everyone. At the time, computers were only available to large companies, were too bulky, and not at all user-friendly. Jobs and Wozniak wanted to make computers small enough for people to use in their homes, and in small business offices. Simply put, they wanted to build a compatible personal computer.

Jobs and Wozniak built the Apple I in Jobs’ garage and sold the units without a monitor, keyboard, or casing, adding these components in 1977. Later, the Apple II changed the industry with the introduction of color graphics. By 1980, the year Apple went public, the corporation had annual sales of $117 million.

Fueled by Steve Jobs’ passion for giving consumers access to the best personal computing products possible, Apple went on to develop the iPod, which for years was synonymous with MP3 player technology.

In 2007, Apple released the iPhone, changing smartphones from a fancy gadget only for business people into a valuable product all consumers could use. 

Today, personal computers and smartphones are ubiquitous, and Apple is one of the world’s most valuable companies. This was the result of Steve Jobs’ WHY to make user-friendly computing technology available for everyone.

Finding Your WHY and Developing Your Mindset for Success

The simplest way to start a business with purpose is to solve a problem you’ve experienced or that’s connected to an organic passion of yours.

Mark Zuckerberg had a passion for helping people stay connected, which he used to build and grow Facebook. Daniel Ek had a passion for music and wanted to end piracy, so he started Spotify. Steve Jobs loved computers and was passionate about making easy-to-use technology products, and his passion fueled Apple’s growth.

When you identify your own passion and can use it to solve a problem or improve a situation, creating an entrepreneurial solution becomes much less difficult.

Focus On the Solution, Not the Product

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of falling in love with their product rather than falling in love with solving the problem. When building a business, you want to focus on the best solution to the problem you’re trying to solve, not your favorite solution.

Apple is a perfect example of this strategy. They adapted their products to the problems of personal computing as user behavior and preferences shifted. First, they developed the personal computer. Next, they created the iPod which let people carry thousands of songs in their pockets, anywhere they went. After that, Apple developed the iPod touch which gave people the ability to easily use multiple software apps during their daily activities. This created demand for increased mobile connectivity which led to the development of the iPhone.

Apple was successful because it focused on the right solutions for the problems of personal computing rather than focusing specifically on any individual product they were developing at the time. If Apple had restricted its interest to personal computers as the only solution to personal technology problems, we might not have the smartphones we rely upon today.

When building your business, don’t become so passionate about your product that you get stuck and can’t see the bigger picture. Focusing on solutions rather than products allows you to quickly pivot when necessary.

By finding your WHY, you provide the unlimited fuel you’ll need to push through the tough times, the failures, and the rejections you’ll meet along the way toward your ultimate success. Your WHY is the prerequisite for everything you do. If you’re not yet sure of your WHY, this book will help you find it in Part 3, The 7 Clicking Points.

If your WHY is not strong enough, you’ll find this book interesting, and you’ll learn some helpful information, but that may be as far as it goes. However, if your WHY is sincere and rooted in your core, this book will be absolutely transformative. 

Find your passion. 

Know your WHY. 

It will steel you with the mindset you MUST have to succeed as an entrepreneur. It will give you the passion to achieve your life’s Dream!

Lessons Learned

1. Knowing you’re WHY is a prerequisite for success.

2. The primary reason people don’t achieve what they set out to do is that their WHY wasn’t strong enough.

3. Your WHY must be so compelling that you have no choice; you have to achieve your WHY no matter what!

4. You can enjoy and learn from the information in this book, but unless you take action, nothing will change.

Khuram Dhanani
Khuram Dhanani
Khuram Dhanani
kd@softstonecapital.com