• In 1833, the birth and subsequent choices of one brilliant man made an enormously positive impact on the world.

    That man was Alfred Nobel, the creator of the most sought after and prestigious set of awards in the world, the Nobel Prizes.

    Alfred NobelA closer look however, at Nobel’s journey will surprise you; the road to this remarkable outcome was paved with one challenge after another reminding us that no matter how difficult and challenging things may be in life, “What Happens next is up to you.” In 1847, Nobel who was a student of science, chemistry and engineering met the inventor of an oily liquid substance that eventually became Nitroglycerine. While nitroglycerine had great benefits, it’s unpredictable and dangerous nature was cause for concern; however, the Nobel family including Alfred continued to investigate it’s potential for commercial and industrial uses.

    The results initially were tragic when Alfred’s younger brother Emil and several other people were killed in a factory explosion. These Disasters encouraged Alfred to try to make Nitroglycerine safe but unfortunately it didn’t come without more tragedy when an another explosion at a company facility took the lives of 15 more people.

    In 1867 after almost 20 years of failure and disappointment, Nobel invented an explosive that revolutionized the mining, demolition and construction industries and made him a very wealthy man; that invention was Dynamite! What makes this story different, intriguing and inspiring is what happens next. Through a calamity of errors and chance events, Alfred found out exactly what people thought of him and his invention. In 1888, after the death of his brother Ludwig, a local newspaper ran a long scathing obituary about him (Alfred) by mistake. This provided Alfred an opportunity granted to few people, to read their own obituary while still alive. He was scorned for being the man who made millions through the death of others, one paper wrote, “Rejoice, the Merchant of Death is dead!” You see what Nobel read in his obituary horrified him. The newspaper described him as a man who made it possible to kill more people more quickly than anyone else who ever lived.

    nobel prizeAt that moment, Nobel realized two things: the first was if he didn’t do something this was the way he was going to be remembered and second and more importantly that this was absolutely NOT the Legacy he wanted to leave behind. Of course, crumpling up the newspaper and those who wrote the article was one option; however, not for Nobel. For him it was time to take positive action and make a positive impact on the world. In 1896 one year before Noble’s death, he signed his last will and testament which set aside basically his entire estate to establish the 5 Nobel Prizes for outstanding achievement in Literature, Science Medicine, Economics and of course Peace.

    As I close this Blog, like Nobel I have two thoughts:

    • The first is thinking about how you want your obituary to read could motivate you to rewrite your life script and change the way you’re currently spending your life.
    • The second thought: no matter how bad things appear or how off course you are in life, it’s never too late to make a change, ultimately “What Happens next is up to you!”
  • One of the many great lines in the movie “Apollo 13” came from Ed Harris, playing NASA Director of Operations Gene Kranz.  The famous line was, “Gentleman, failure is not an option.”  He was referring to the three astronauts stranded in space and the importance of getting them home safely.  Motivated by a true purpose was the driving force behind their unwavering pursuit of a solution.  You see, there was something bigger at play here.  The folks at NASA had a really big ‘why’ motivating them to relentlessly figure out how to get those astronauts home.  Here is the simple principle – If you have a big enough ‘why’ in life, a purpose in life, you will always figure out the ‘how.’  A person without a purpose in life is like a boat without a rudder, drifting aimlessly without a direction going nowhere.

    the power of why


    In all walks of life when referring to someone’s success we often hear the words focus and determination.  Merriam Webster defines the word ‘purpose’ as the reason why (there‘s that word again, ‘why’) something is done, a feeling of being determined to achieve an outcome.  There are enormously talented, intelligent people in the world that are unsuccessful because they lack direction.  I read where in World War II if an unidentified soldier appeared in the dark and could not state their mission, their purpose for being there, they were shot without question.  I often wonder if our life depended on identifying our purpose, how much more focused and determined we would all be to reach our destination.  Productivity would soar.  We would take real passionate and meaningful action to reach our outcome.  Whether you’re an individual or a corporation, having a purpose allows you to initiate, evaluate, and refine your talents and abilities helping you find your path in life, ultimately achieving success.

    A friend of mine once told me that the most impactful, motivating speech he had ever heard was just three short words.  It came from his wife when she said, “Honey I’m pregnant.”  He said those few words instantly motivated him because he now had a big WHY in his life, a purpose in his life.  In fact, when your ‘why’ gets bigger you get better because you stop holding back.  You get laser focused and you go all out.  It’s why so often you hear about police officers, firefighters, performing superhuman feats when Failure is not an option!

    Few people if any succeed because they’re destined to succeed.  Most people succeed because they are determined to succeed and that determination is fueled by purpose.

    So as you read this blog ask yourself these questions:

    (1) What drives me each day?

    (2) What gets me up in the morning, and …

    (3) What do I believe so strongly in that I will do whatever is necessary to see it through? 

    You see it’s those who start with ‘why’ that have the ability to figure out how.  The result is that they not only achieve the individual success, but they inspire everyone around them.

    Remember, success doesn’t come from what you do in life; it comes from the power of why you do it.

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