I'm a cartoonist. I draw funny pictures with funny words that I send out into the world to earn my living. I love my job unquestioningly. That is until recently, when I ran across a TED Talk by Simon Sinek about how great leaders inspire action.
Now, I am neither a great leader, nor particularly inspiring, but it looked like Sinek was going to discuss Apple, and being a fanboy of the fruit, I watched it. But I got more than I expected; for just a moment it actually made me question why I'm a cartoonist.
Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it ... but very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by "why" I don't mean "to make a profit." That's a result. It's always a result. By "why," I mean: What's your purpose? What's your cause? What's your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?
So I asked myself, why am I a cartoonist? And, thankfully, the answer came quickly and clearly - I love making people laugh.
OK, that sounds trite, I know, but it's that simple. And the more I thought about it, the clearer it became. It's not just that I enjoy making people laugh, or that I'd like very much to make you laugh, I love it. I crave it. I'm a laugh junkie.
When I was little my mom gave me a joke book that became the bane of my family's existence. It was as thick as the Sears fall catalog, and the jokes were terrible, but I toted that joke book around, reciting them over and over to anyone within earshot just waiting for that laugh.
When I became a musician I chose the trombone, which, when you think about it, is empirically the funniest of the instruments. (It's the voice of Charlie Brown's teacher!) And when I played jazz, I loved nothing more than to work in goofy kid songs or Christmas carols into my solos.
Later, when I worked a series of day jobs, I played pranks on my co-workers, designed oddball contests and rewards, and I wasn't above the occasional interpretive dance, all in search of that big laugh.
I love to make my mom laugh, I love making my wife laugh, and I LOVE making my kids laugh. I will do and/or say anything to get a laugh.
So, yes, I know what I do - I'm a cartoonist. And I know how I do it - funny pictures, funny words. But Sinek's talk reminded me anew why I'm a cartoonist. And that's a good reminder indeed.