William Liao

May 14, 2022

the point

On the last day of one of my classes in college, the professor offered the class some life advice by way of his own life story:

He had a law career that, by many accounts, was very successful.

He was on track to become a partner at his firm, he was very well compensated, and he was well-respected amongst his colleagues. 

But one day, in period of deep reflection, he asked himself: “What am I working for? What’s the point?”

He hesitated which…made him hesitate even more.

He realized he couldn’t answer the question. 

At some point, the answer may have been that he was doing the work for his love of law, but this didn’t feel true anymore. 

At some point, the answer may have been that he was doing the work for his family, but at the time his family was already well taken care of and secure. 

His reflection led him to another important realization — that he was losing more than he was gaining. The price of being a top performer meant no vacations, late evenings, missed soccer games, and no date nights — a price that he realized he wasn’t interested in paying anymore. 

Suffice it to say, he made a no-brainer decision to quit the firm, forego the prospect of ever becoming a partner, and instead took a teaching gig at a university where he could continue doing fulfilling work while making time to travel and spend time with his family. 

What he realized in his reflection is what Simon Sinek would call his “why”. 

He revisisted his values, realized his actions weren’t in alignment with those values, and decided to make a change. 

Our values can evolve and change. And by being mindful of these changes, we can ensure that what we do and what we care about are in sync.