What’s Your Foundational Why?

Do you do what you do for the sake of others?


Zane Stephens, SAG-AFTRA actor and owner of Zane Stephens Studio, discusses what the “why” behind what you do should be.

“The only foundational reason for why you do what you do is for the sake of the audience,” explains Zane. “You figure out who your audience is and you give yourself away, and you'll be satisfied.”

Watch the video to learn what it means to use your gifts, talents and abilities for the sake of an audience.

All right, let's talk about your foundational why.

If you're in a job because you want excess money, you go from job to job because you want more money, you're not going to find satisfaction. If you're in a job because you like what people tell you about your job, "Man, you're really good," that's not going to fly because people won't continue to tell you how good you are.

Are you in a job because you need a job, because provisionally you have to pay bills? OK, well, that's not bad. Put an asterisk. It just can't be your foundational why.

Are you in a job because it's a step in the right direction professionally? Again, not bad. But if it's the foundational reason why you're doing what you're doing, you're not going to be satisfied. You're going to be constantly looking for something else. Not a bad reason, it gets an asterisk, but it can't be the foundational reason.

What about because you believe in the mission of the company? I hope that's true for you. I hope you get to work for a company you believe in the mission, but if that's the foundational reason, again it's not your mission. It's the company's mission. So what happens if it changes a little bit? It's a great reason to work for a job, but it can't be the foundational reason.

So, Zane, what is the foundational reason? For the sake of the audience. Now, what does that mean? Your audience could be your family. Your audience could be your team as a manager. Your audience could be the person in the cube next to you. Your audience could literally be people that come to watch you perform. The audience is whatever your audience is, and "for their sake" means you're giving yourself away to them.

Your uniqueness, your giftedness, your talents, your abilities, they're not meant to be held onto. They're meant to be given away. And if you give them away, I promise you'll be satisfied. I promise you'll find fulfillment in your job, because you're giving yourself away. Everyone has a need, and everyone is unique. And you use your uniqueness and you give to the people that need it, you'll be satisfied.

The only foundational reason for why you do what you do is for the sake of the audience. You figure out who your audience is and you give yourself away, and you'll be satisfied. For me as an acting coach, every day I get up you know what I'm thinking? How can I make my students understand these characters? Because the audience is coming to watch. They're coming to watch and say, "Hey, that person understands me. That character, I went through that," or, "Man, that character made me go to a place that I've never been to before." And if my actors aren't in the moment, 100 percent giving themselves to the scene, the audience will never be affected.

So I get up every morning and I say, "How can I study more of the art of acting?" Because it's not for me. It's not for money. It's not for praise. It's for me to give myself away to my students so they can give themselves away for the audience, the literal audience.

No matter what industry you're in, you can do this. First, you've got to know who your audience is. Think about it and then make the steps you need in whatever profession you're in to give yourself to the audience, and you will be satisfied. I promise.
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Zane Stephens

Zane Stephens is a self-described Renaissance Man, good at a lot of things, but great at none. As a creative, he cannot help but juggle many things at once. He claims that he is more productive when his mind is stretched.


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