Why do you do what you do?
Most people, in the U.S. anyway, immediately hear this question: "Why do you do what you do for a paycheck?"
That's not what he was asking. The question is purely literal: Why do you choose to spend the time you have doing what you do? Working, playing golf, traveling, having children, living where you do, commuting, playing computer games, seeing friends, reading, drinking, watching TV, water skiing....whatever.
It's wildly revealing because it makes you realize the kind of rut 99% of us live in. A rut is very good at desensitizing you to the constant freshness and opportunity of the broader world.
It's sort of related to my favorite marketing question, which goes like this: So that what happens? I ask that of people all the time. "This company needs to create buzz!" So that what happnes? "So people hear about us and we 'create awareness.'" So that what happens? Keep asking that and you get to the desired outcome, which is the critical ingredient in informing your actions.
You spend your time doing something for a living. So that what happens? You watch TV. So that what happens? You play a round of golf. So that what happens? You drink four beers a day. So that what happens?
I'm not suggesting everything must be oriented to some kind of quantifiable end. To the contrary -- sometimes just giving in to a lazy afternoon of watching the game and taking a nap is good for the soul.
The point is that many of us lose perspective on life, or go through the proverbial motions, or otherwise get dragged through life by our impulses. As horribly fallible as I am as a human being, I'm of course guilty of this too. But I do try every now and then to live more proactively, because that proactivity nearly always leads to something more satisfying and rewarding.
More and more, lately, I've come to believe rewards -- the best rewards in life -- come to those who put positive energy into the universe around us. The dregs in life go to those who lurch from one thing to the next, merely reacting to what happens to them. This goes for human beings and organizations alike, in my view.