Why are you in business?

Years ago I learned the value of asking why. I learned that explaining why a change needed to be made should come before telling people what upcoming changes would look like. I learned that if one asks why five times before jumping to a decision that decision has a better chance of being the right one. If you think it’s easy asking why five times try it the next time one of your colleagues comes to you with a new idea. I’ve also learned that asking why is a good way to understand the reason you are in the business or career you are in.

I recently turned 71. Five years ago, after retiring twice from two different careers, I started an auction business. I earned my auctioneer’s license and began conducting auctions. People often asked why I would do this at my age. For one thing, I enjoy working and staying active. A second reason is that I enjoy the auction process. But, these were not the primary reason. You see…the real question isn’t why at your age did you start an auction business, but why go into the auction business at all.

Since 1981 I have been in ministry. I pastored a church for 20 years and served in a denominational ministry role for another 14 years. Almost anyone who goes into ministry does so to serve other people. The reason why I became an auctioneer is to continue to serve other people.

There are three times people call upon an auctioneer. Some make their living buying and selling. It’s how they support their families. Many auctioneers have regular pickers who bring them items to sell on their behalf. They have purchased these items elsewhere and want to sell them at auction for a profit. I can help these people feed their families.

A second reason people use auctioneers is when they are downsizing or moving into assisted living. The majority of clients I’ve had fall in this category. Like many older people today, they have found out their children do not want the things they have accumulated over the years and do not know what to do with their things when they move into smaller dwellings. Selling those possessions through auction is often the quickest way to dispose of them and can add to their retirement funds.

The third group of people who call upon auctioneers are those who have an estate they need to sell. Perhaps they have inherited an estate or been named executor of an estate, and they need to dispose of it to close out the estate. Oftentimes, they live elsewhere and do not know what they are going to do with their loved one’s belongings. Auctioneers can help them make decisions as to whether to donate items to charities, throw items away or sell them.

In each of these cases I am able to serve people who have needs. After spending an afternoon helping one lady decide what to do with an estate she had to deal with she told me how much stress was gone after meeting with me. That’s WHY I do this. I am ministering to people with needs in a different way that I have done previously.

It’s important that you understand the why of what you do. If it’s only a way to make a living, then at least you will know that, and it will probably affect the way you conduct your business or manage your career. If it’s to serve others then you will have an entirely different perspective on what you do, and that will also impact the way you do what you do.

Answer the why question and see if it doesn’t change who you are and what you do.

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