What, who, and why?

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady closes the final scene in his new documentary, Tom vs. Time, by posing three questions:

“What are we doing this for? Who are we doing this for? Why are we doing this?”

He goes on to say,

“You got to have the answers to those questions, and they have to be with a lot of conviction. When you lose your conviction, then you probably should be doing something else.”

While the questions left some Pats fans nervous that Tom might be losing his previous unrelenting commitment to football, it’s also possible that he was reaffirming his passion by reminding himself of the what, who, and why.

High school students, as you work hard to get into college, as you take the AP classes and prepare for the standardized tests and commit yourself to your various activities, it might be worth asking yourself those questions occasionally.

What are you doing this for? Are you doing it so you can get into a prestigious college? Are you doing it so you can find a place to pursue your love of history or journalism or mathematics? Are you doing it because you see college as a place where you can learn, grow, and discover your talents?

Who are you doing this for? Are you doing it for yourself because you want to drive your future and your education? Are you doing it for your family because they’ve sacrificed to give you this opportunity? Are you doing it out of a sense of competition with your classmates?

Why are you doing this? Is attending meetings for that club making you happy? Is it necessary to prep for the ACT a third time in the hopes of eking out another point or two? Are you losing sleep and giving up things that make you happy so that you can keep taking AP-everything?

I’m not suggesting that you should consider abandoning your college goals altogether. But I’ve found that too many high school students just start the race towards college without ever considering their reasons for running. Getting into college does not require the kind of fanatical devotion to one craft that being a professional athlete demands. But you should find a sense of meaning and purpose in what you’re doing. And one of the best ways to reaffirm, refuel, and even refocus your conviction is to occasionally ask yourself the what, who, and why.