Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why Do You Do What You Do (wdydwyd)?

In a recent blog post, Lara Galinsky of Echoing Green talks about how each new Echoing Green Fellow is asked to answer the question, "Why do you do what you do?"

"It gets to the heart of what we believe is one of the most important attributes of social entrepreneurs – self-awareness," writes Galinsky.

Why Do You Do What You Do (wdydwyd) is a community art project created by social entrepreneur, Tony Deifell, that asks people to combine an image and text to answer the question, "Why do you do what you do?"

Galinsky explains that Deifell came up with the idea for wdydwyd when, "[H]e realized he didn’t have an answer when asked. Having started several nonprofits, he was doing, doing, and more doing. Perhaps, like many of us, he took the Why for granted?"

It's a tough question when you really think about it. Why do you do what you do, particularly as it relates to trying to create positive change in the world?

When I thought about how to answer the question, all kinds of things came to mind:
* So the next generation can live without worry.
* To give people hope in uncertain times.
* To be of service.

But honestly, when you get down to it, most of the things I choose to spend my time on, I choose because I think they're fun. Not very deep, but it's true.

You can add your wdydwyd photo to the wdydwyd Flickr group, and join the wdydwyd Facebook group, or wdydwyd Ning group.

You can see the Echoing Green Fellows' answers to wdydwyd on the Echoing Green home page.

Full disclosure: I've worked for Echoing Green.
Photo of me by the hubs.
Cross-posted from BlogHer.


  1. Anonymous11:24 AM

    Thanks Britt! I agree with you - having fun is underneath most of things I do as well.

    It's been interesting to me that many social change leaders have trouble with this question and haven’t actually spent the time to answer it. Of course, it is not a common question to ask (we live in a world where we are pushed forward to advance vs understand what drives us/centers us/gives up meaning and purpose). But for most in the social change sphere, purpose is what drives us.

    If others go for it, I'd love to know what it was like answering the question. Hard? Cathartic? Fun perhaps?

  2. I love wdydwyd. I learned about it several years ago on Since then I have come to different conclusions about why I do what I do.

    I want to see the community evolve so that those who have responded can find like minded others, track our responses through time, and share stories generated by posting stickers or sharing about wdydwyd.

    Today I do what I do because I have the honor, privilege, support, and capacity to do it.

  3. Lara - I had a woman email me yesterday to ask me if I thought it was ok that she wanted to do work that has a social impact because it is fun for her. Interesting isn't it how we don't think it is ok to have fun and do good?

    Nurture girl - I think it would be great if the site could be come more interactive, and become a bigger movement. It is important for us social change-y folks to ask ourselves why we do what we do.

  4. Clicked on this post, as I'm working on a number of strategic planning, strategic decision-making projects. Thanks for the cute shorthand--I'm off to check on the Echoing Green fellows' answers.


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