As the truck headed down the street, Walt was his typical quiet self. He meticulously sat each can on the sidewalk. Meanwhile in the cab, silence prevailed between George and Walt. George actually enjoyed the stillness over the noise coming from the garbage truck. As they turned the corner, George wondered if the entire ride was going to amount to anything worthwhile. He liked spending Tuesday mornings with Walt, but he really enjoyed the wisdom that Walt passed along. Every week in the truck was like a classroom, and George was the student. George asked Walt, “Any word? Any progress?” Walt said, “I’ve been depressed this past week. I have gotten turned down for a loan by two banks and now I don’t know what I am going to do. Walt then said, “I guess it’s not supposed to be. At least not yet anyway.” Walt detailed how the loan application process went at National Community Bank and Old Savings and Loan Bank. At the end of both appointments he heard phrases like; “You’re just not ready,” “You’re just not the business owner type and your lifestyle cannot support this size of a loan.” Walt was dejected after hearing these words and expressed his frustration. But he still had one more option and that meeting was in two days.
George could sense that Walt was upset and asked him, “Do you want any advice? Are you going to give up?” Walt knew that George understood business and responded with, “Can you help me?” George grabbed a piece of paper and a pen off the dash to make a few notes. He opened with, “How did the the interviews start? What did you wear? What did you say?” Walt said, “I don’t remember what I said, but I do that I was nervous. I am not used to being in a bank.” George empathetically replied, “But what did you say, how did you say it?” Walt told George that he just told the bankers how he was going to make money. George exhaled a deep breath and said, “Are you ready Walt? You’ve got two days to make big changes for your next loan interview.” He continued, “But you have to believe you can, no one is going to give this to you and if you don’t believe that this can work, then you’re not going to convince a banker to loan you the money.” George asked Walt, “Why do you do this every day?” Walt said, “So we have money.” George said, “Why do you need money?” Walt answered, “So we can buy the things we want.” George asked, “Why do you need to buy things you want?” Walt, “I want my wife and kids to have things that don’t come from Dollar General or from garage sales.” Again George followed with, “Why do you want things from other stores?” Walt said, “So they fit in.” George asked, “Why do you want them to fit in?” Walt said, “Because their dad and her husband is a garbage truck driver.” George asked, “Why are you a garbage truck driver?” Walt was upset and expected business advice, not “why” questions, but he answered them anyway, “Because a long time ago, a man gave me a chance and people need their trash collected.” George came back with, “Why did that man give you a chance?” Walt said, “He saw something in me. He told me that I would get up and always keep going. He knew that I would take the job seriously and care for the customers.” George said, “I’m confused Walt, because you said earlier that you needed money so your family could buy things. Then you said, you care for customers. Which is it?” Walt responded with, “The real reason I get out of bed in the morning is so I can make someone’s life a little better.” He continued, “But I know the banks want to hear about how I can make a profit. Honestly, it’s not about the money. What matters to me is the impact that I can make on one person, one house at a time.” The truck was stopped at George’s house and before he opened the door he said, “That’s your why. Write it down, repeat it out loud and I will be back tomorrow morning to talk about business.”
Sometimes “why” questions can drive us crazy. These questions drive us crazy because maybe we don’t want to know the answer. We don’t want to admit the answers because they may scare us. It scares us because that answer is our true self, and our true self may be different than what is projected to what society expects. To know yourself, ask yourself why do you ________. Then continue this process repeatedly using the previous answer to ask the next why and eventually you will find what stirs you. When you get there, not only will you breathe easier but maybe you won’t hide your why. Let your “why” be seen, because it is worth sharing.