“What is your primary reason for wanting to do this?” This vital question will let you know if what you’re about to begin will serve you well or not. Often, we confuse our primary purpose with a secondary one and the implications can be costly.
Whenever we invest in secondary, it crashes at some point and leads to enormous frustration and enormous disappointment
Whenever you listen to a conversation between friends about movies, you hear them talking about the primary actor. Everyone knows the name of the primary actor, especially if it’s a well‑known movie. But when it comes to all the supporting actors, often their names are not known at all. And the reason why is because the entire story line revolves around the primary actor, that’s why he is the primary actor. The supporting actors are only there to provide any secondary presence that’s needed to support the primary actor.
And that’s why the primary actor is always known.
And this is true in almost everything in life; there is a primary element and a secondary element. However, we don’t always get it as right as we do with movies in that sometimes we confuse the primary and the secondary and we make the secondary primary. And the price for making that mistake can be very significant.
Let me give you another few examples. You take a knife. What is the primary purpose of a knife? Of course, it is to cut things, which would mean that the primary part of the knife is the sharp blade. Well, then, why do we need so much more than just the blade? Why do we have a thickness on the other end of ‑‑ the opposite side of the blade? Why do we have a whole handle sticking out? The handle is there as a secondary purpose, which is just to enable the person to be able to hold and access the blade without touching the blade itself. The thickness of the other side of the metal, the flip side of the blade, is there simply to give weight and strength to the blade. If we only had the blade, it would be too weak to actually cut. But all of those other parts of the knife, which makes up most of the knife, is really only secondary. It’s not the primary purpose of the knife.
So sometimes there’s so much going on but 95 percent of what’s going on is really secondary, it’s not primary. When I was building my website, the BeginningWithin.com website, the one building website wanted to know what the purpose of the website is. And when I would make suggestions to him about different things that I thought looked really, you know, up to date and glitzy or cool, he would refer back to the reason why I’m making the website. And if it fits in with the primary purpose of the website, he would say, that’s a great idea; and if it didn’t, sometimes to my disappointment, he would say, well, that does not fit with the primary purpose of your website.
By way of example, I asked him if we could put a slider on the home page, which is essentially, as you know, as you’ve seen on many pages where images will slide across the front of the website when you come on to it, which looks really cool or it could, at least. And he said, well, you can put it up there but that will slow down the loading time of your page. So when someone goes to your page it may take 2 or 3 seconds for the page to load and, guess what, people will not wait more than 3 seconds for your page to load. So is this actually serving the primary purpose of your site or not? Are you about having a cool website or are you about finding the best way to make sure people access your information?
Well, if I stick with the primary, I know what the answer to that is. When we take a job, what is the reason we are taking a job? Some jobs we take purely for the money. Some jobs we take because the job is meaningful. And some jobs are a blend. Well, I need to make money and it is a little bit meaningful so it’s a blend of the two.
We need to know what the primary reason why we’re taking this job is. How much are you willing to sacrifice for this job? How many of your values are you willing to sacrifice for your job, as often we find people doing, just to hold on to their job and make money. How much of our family are we going to sacrifice for our job? Will we be sacrificing our marriage for our job? What’s primary in our life? Is it our marriage or is it our job? Is it money or is it our value system?
When we actually simply ask ourselves this question, what is primary and what is secondary, we can resolve some very major dilemmas and conflicts that crop up in everyone’s life.
Sometimes we ask ourselves when we look at another person, why would anyone do that? Well, maybe we don’t understand their primary purpose and their secondary purpose and, if we did, we would understand why they’re doing that. Often we look at people who are of spiritual nature or who have a strong religious background and they make decisions and we just look and say, why would someone spend their day doing such a thing? Or why would someone spend their money on such a thing? And, actually, if we were to have a conversation with them and ask them what is most important to them in their life, what is primary, we would be surprised to learn that what is primary in their life is what leads them to do such things. And sometimes those things are actually very beautiful.
When we do not take the time to determine what is primary in our life versus secondary, we live with a lot of confusion. And the price for that can be significant.
Sometimes we make what is secondary primary. And the price for doing that is enormous. When we determine our value based on our external self, such as our looks, we are making a grave mistake simply because what is truly of value regarding any person is not their external looks, it’s their internal self. And it’s only a matter of time until our external looks change and it’s only a matter of time until we will be faced with deep disappointment because we invested in secondary value instead of primary value.
When we invest all of our time in status ‑‑ and sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re doing this because we do it so self‑consciously and almost sometimes desperately. But when we invest in status because we want people to accept us and we work our entire lives on the status, status, status, you know, at some point that status begins to diminish. And at some point, we begin to feel very let down.
The truth is, we make a grave mistake when we do that. Because we attribute and invest all of our value in something which is secondary. And whenever we invest in secondary, it crashes at some point and leads to enormous frustration and enormous disappointment
That’s why we must look into what should be primary for a person. What really is important in my life? And as desperately as there’s a part of me that tells me that secondary things play a significant role and I should invest in them, we must be very careful that secondary things remain secondary. They only remain supporting actors to our primary cause, to our primary purpose. Because people who focus on their primary purpose develop into beautiful people and focused people and they live with much less confusion.
So we need to ask ourselves, are we doing things we need to achieve fulfilling our primary purpose or are we being distracted by many secondary things?