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.