Then the inmate asked me…

What is your why?Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Travis County Correctional Complex here in Austin.

I’ve spent a lot of time in jails and prisons and I’ve even played with a band on the yard of the Texas prison where executions take place. But I’ve never done a presentation for inmates. It was on personal leadership, responsibility, decision making, and fear.

Sheriff Greg Hamilton had mentioned to the audience that I could have spent my time somewhere else getting paid to speak but that I was there for free. After the cheers and hollering died down, one inmate stood up and asked me this:

“Other than money, what do you get out of speaking?”

Great question. Maybe he couldn’t imagine why someone would do anything for free. Maybe he wondered why I would choose to spend my time in a jail speaking with inmates.

Whatever the motivation for the question, he was really asking me, “Why do you do what you do?”

I told him there was no better feeling than hearing news about people changing their lives because of something I said.

I told him about the man who lost 100 lbs., wrote a book, improved his relationship with his wife and teenage daughters, and is excited about the future for the first time in a long time.

I told him about the woman who lost 40 lbs. and enrolled in a program at the local community college to pursue a dream.

I told him that real power is influencing other people, watching them have an a-ha moment and turn themselves around. It’s not about rank, position, or salary, I said. Those things, in and of themselves, do not make people powerful. It’s what people do with those things that makes them powerful.

I’ve come to the conclusion that real power lies in either improving the situations of other people or helping them improve their own situations.

Why do I do what I do? It’s the rush of watching people see, sometimes for the first time, what’s possible. I love watching realization sweep across someone’s face. I love getting emails and letters outlining the progress someone made in his or her life. I love being reminded that it’s not about me, that I’m just the vehicle through which people can come to conclusions about what they want from their lives, about what’s possible.

I love giving audiences what they need; in return, I get much more than I could ever imagine.

And, so, now we turn to you.

In 2015, this blog has been focused on how you can get more of what you want in life. One way to do that is to know your Why?

What is your Why?

Why do you do what you do?

Get the Nerve!

About Joe Serio

Dr. Joe Serio is a keynote speaker, trainer, and author who helps the people in your organization navigate resistance to change so they can move forward successfully.

2 Responses

  1. Jan King says:

    Joe, I love this!! My favorite part of your answer is “…I’m just the vehicle through which people can come to conclusions about what they want from their lives, about what’s possible.” That’s IT!! By allowing yourself to BE the vehicle, you let us drive!!! Thanks for the revelation!!

  2. Joe Serio says:

    Thanks, Jan. It was a great experience. The group was one of the best audiences I’ve ever had. We had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, and they took the serious parts seriously. At moments, they were dead silent. Other times they were yelling out, “Amen!” and “That’s right!” I’m frequently reminded that the line between me being on the outside and me being on the inside can be very thin. One false move, one misunderstanding, one outburst of temper and I could be in their position. Then, at that point, how would I want to be treated? How would I want the world to look at me?


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