I first met Jenn Chloupek in Washington D.C. when I spoke at the NextGen Government Summit. We've since exchanged a number of e-mails — and I invited her to guest blog. Here's her story.
Why do you do what you do? How often have we asked ourselves that question, only to answer, “I want to advance my career” or “I want to provide for my family.” While those are important external factors that drive what you do, they are only a small piece of what motivates us. Finding your internal motivators provides the inspiration for what you do, and sometimes reveals barriers to your success. This all begins with finding out your “Why It Matters.”
My “Why It Matters” had such a profound impact on my life that I wrote a book about it. Why It Matters helps you reflect on your deepest motives and determine what drives you — simply stated, it is a distilled phrase that represents you. It helps answer the question, “Why do I do what I do?” For me, it is to prove my worth. Every new attempt to prove my worth comes with excitement, and fear. But luckily, that fear is overcome by support.
My husband Larry is my biggest cheerleader and inspiration. In fact, how we met started with inspiration and awe. Both of our families own beach houses in Ocean City, Maryland and, while mine would sit on the porch drinking “beverages” or eating delicious desserts, we would see this man running back and forth, up and down, absolutely killing it on the stairs. As we sat around eating, we knew we had to meet him.
My father introduced himself to him on the beach and what began as a friendship became much more. After discussing what we both wanted in a mate and an invitation to your everyday trip to the Finnish Embassy, that inspirational, fit man proposed to me on that same beach we met and the rest is history.
Now, he is set to retire this year. What I didn’t share with you about that fit man is he had his leg amputated as a child after a bout with bone cancer. But this doesn’t stop him from running countless marathons and setting Guinness Book World Records while doing it.
His “Why It Matters” is to police. At first, he viewed it as policing what his body could and could not do. After our relationship started, it was no longer a bad thing, but rather the motivation to prove he could do it.
We now give speeches together throughout the country. I share that he is the inspiration in my life, pushing me to start running 5Ks to 10Ks, to half marathons and now full marathons. He shares I am the inspiration in his life to not give into limitations. He always ran 5Ks, but anymore was too strenuous on his upper body. After seeing me run a full marathon, he started running 10Ks and now we are running full marathons together. We both found our “Why It Matters,” acknowledged and grew from it, and provided support and encouragement to each other’s, leading to success. I live with this example and support in my life, and what a blessing it is to have it in my midst!
This entire discovery of our “Why It Matters” sounds pretty straightforward, but it does take an extensive journey of self-discovery to find those internal motivators, and that deep dive can be scary. You are opening yourself up and examining yourself in a way that can leave you vulnerable. However, stripping those barriers leads to understanding the elements of your core motivation, which in turn, leads to the ultimate personal satisfaction – the ultimate importance. Proving my worth is what gets me out of bed in the morning, and helps me focus on decisions throughout the day. It guides me as Larry’s wife and mother of two boys. It drives me to compete in marathons and build my coaching practice.
Is finding your “Why It Matters” a disruptive process? Yes! It certainly was for me. I once had a girlfriend tell me, “You try a lot, you do a lot.” I think she was actually complimenting me, but I took it as a negative. Do I try to do too many things? I guess I do – maybe because I’m trying to prove my worth to myself too! Looks like I’ve still got some work to do, but I believe that daring to find your “Why It Matters” is a journey that leads to your ultimate personal satisfaction. You won’t regret it!
Glass half full marathon runner, leadership coach and lifelong teacher Jennifer Chloupek is the co-author of “Why It Matters – The Sherpa Guide to What You Are Looking For,” centered on a concept she developed working with her executive coach colleague, Brenda Corbett. Chloupek is dedicated to helping people discover and become their best selves. This book marks her debut as a business writer.