Author Jamie Douraghy recently wrote the book On Guard and On Point: Mastering the Duel Between Life and Work. This book is a reflection of Jamie’s own work and mission through his organization, Life, Work Integration. Jamie helps people discover their own personal answers to the questions why, how, and what. In other words, he helps people discover what really lights them on fire and drives them in life.
He then helps them figure out how to bring their life into alignment with their authentic self and deepest, most true desires, both personally and professionally. In this episode, Jamie talks about how these three questions changed his own life, moving him from feeling stuck, despite the fact that he was a successful entrepreneur, and into a place where he is thriving and feels like his daily life is a reflection of his personal mission and passion.
Nikki Van Noy: So, let’s start by talking about the experience in your own life that led you to want to write this book.
Jamie Douraghy: The experience in my own life that led me to write this book was I had been running my own company for about 25 years, enjoying the process, had an amazing team to work with, great clients, and I just hit a point where I was showing up to work physically, but I just wasn’t there at my core, and I wasn’t there mentally.
I felt as many people say, that there has to be a better way and that was the start of the journey.
There Has to Be a Better Way
Nikki Van Noy: This strikes me as this feeling of being stuck. A feeling that really resonates with a lot of people today. Can you talk to me a little bit about why you think that is and the impact that it has on people when they find themselves in that position?
Jamie Douraghy: That feeling of being stuck is personal, as we create that. It may not be the truth–the outside world doesn’t necessarily see it. However, it’s something that we feel in our gut. And a lot of times it manifests in low energy. I felt myself showing up for work with low energy and looking forward to when the day would end. Whereas I used to say, “I can’t wait for the day to start.”
It evolved over a long period of time of doing the same thing over and over again and not knowing why I was doing it. The key for me there was really not knowing why. Once I knew why I was doing what I was doing, then my perspective shifted. When my perspective shifted, my energy shifted, and I rediscovered passion again for something that I was always meant to be doing. I just never knew how to get there.
Why, How, What
Nikki Van Noy: Let’s stop on that why for a moment. What was your why?
Jamie Douraghy: My why is to contribute to a greater good. As long as I feel that I’m helping someone or something bigger than myself, and helping them get to the next level, it helps fulfill that sense of purpose that I was seeking out there on my own.
Nikki Van Noy: So, in your book, you actually walk readers through these three questions which begins with why and also, goes over how, and what. So, let’s start by going through your own process with this, after you found your why. What was your how?
Jamie Douraghy: What I found out about connecting with the why, which really connects with your gut brain, it’s really part of your feelings, it’s part of your limbic brain–for me, it’s almost my nonnegotiable. It’s that daily driver. How I do what I do is where I’m able to play to my strengths, it’s my talents, it’s how I express myself. That comes out to how I do what I do, and it’s what connects the inner me with the other person, or the work that I’m doing.
Nikki Van Noy: And then, how about your what?
Jamie Douraghy: The what is a result of the interaction of my how and my why–when I’m able to dig deep into my why, and express myself through my how, to make sense of complex situations. So, my how makes sense of the complicated, and what I do is create clarity. Therefore, I gain a lot of energy when I see someone saying or asking me, “How did you do that?”
I give them that explanation, and they say, “Wow. I get it.” It puts a smile on their face, it gives them energy, and by me seeing their energy, it actually fuels my tank again and recharges me to go out there and do it again and again.
Nikki Van Noy: When you were in this place of being stuck yourself, did you walk yourself through these three questions, or was it more of an elusive process?
Jamie Douraghy: It started off as an elusive process and the clarity for me came when I reached out to a mentor. My mentor agreed to essentially coach me through these periods where I didn’t know how to do it nor what to do. I needed very concrete steps, he created a series of action plans, and held me accountable to those commitments, as the commitments were not just to myself, they were to my family, they were to my business, and they were to my community.
Nikki Van Noy: So, do you think that it is the why that’s the lynchpin for everybody and from there, it becomes more of a strategic endeavor and more about accountability, or do you think for every person, it’s different? Like one part is easier than the other two, but whatever part of it is can vary from person to person?
Jamie Douraghy: I see the why is being our pilot light, it’s always there, it’s always on. Sometimes it’s brighter, sometimes it goes a little dimmer. However, it’s always there. What that does when something ignites us or we get excited about it, we turn that flame right on and we go and go.
So, really for me, it’s the combination of the why, how, and what. The reason that it resonated with me is my why and my how it is often about how I think and how I feel. My how and my what is what I do. That’s the impact it has on other people. My why and how are about me, my how and what are about the impact I have on other people.
Nikki Van Noy: The how is sort of like the bridge between you and what lights you on fire, your pilot light and then how you bring that out into the world with the what. Am I understanding that correctly?
Jamie Douraghy: That’s exactly right. The how is the bridge between why I do what I do. It manifests in how I do everything.
Work Your Plan
Nikki Van Noy: With all of this in mind, let’s rewind back to your situation a little bit and tell me what it looked like because you were successful at what you were doing. It was just that it wasn’t lighting you on fire anymore. How did you finally reach that point where you realized I have to make a jump and do something different?
Jamie Douraghy: It was through the process that my mentor helped walk me through, setting long-term goals, and larger goals, asking me, “What can I do that’s bigger than me? How can I push myself? How do I increase my capacity to do more?” I’m involved with several nonprofits in a leadership capacity and his challenge to me was, “Where can you stand out?”
More importantly, “What do you stand for, so that you can stand up?” And once I was able to bring all these together and turn them into a plan, the next steps were actually easier because then all I really had to do was work my plan, as they say.
Nikki Van Noy: What do you have to say to people when there is an element of fear at play of leaving the known behind? Even if it’s not a satisfactory unknown?
Jamie Douraghy: Fear is interesting because fear can be approached one or two ways–it can hold us back, or it could morph into courage, where it actually propels us forward. And for a while, I was fearful, and I was holding myself back because I was afraid of the change or how I might be perceived by others since I would no longer be a CEO.
Once I got over the fear, once I put my ego to the side, I realized that I have a certain amount of competency, a certain skillset that will help people’s lives change. I was able to turn that into confidence and I really haven’t looked back since then. Fear in this capacity is not in my vocabulary anymore.
Nikki Van Noy: Wow. That sounds like freedom.
Jamie Douraghy: It’s very liberating.
The Discovery Process
Nikki Van Noy: And just to give listeners an idea of what’s at stake. Talk to me a little bit about how your daily life used to feel before versus how it feels now?
Jamie Douraghy: I was living and playing in a very small world and that small world was often limited to the size of my digital screen, and the interpretation and the projection of the lives of others. Once I was able to put that aside and learn to read the great thoughts of others, the great writing of others, and write my own thoughts down and generate new ideas, the transition started to happen and I moved from that small world to living and playing and being part of a larger world.
Nikki Van Noy: I love this word, playing, and I’m wondering if you see discovering this feeling of playing, instead of doing, to be a common denominator in the people you work with who are finding their own why, how, and what and making changes?
Jamie Douraghy: What I enjoyed most about the discovery process was akin to being a child again, where everything is new and everything is open. Judgment doesn’t really matter anymore and by being able to put that aside, it unlocks so much more, which then, in turn, unlocked the opportunity to write a book. It was never on my bucket list to write a book.
However, doing the work that I’ve been doing, people came up to me and they said, “You need to write this and bring it out to a larger audience.” Therefore, they saw something that I didn’t, and I went down the discovery process again. Discovery takes you up to a new level and that’s been a very interesting journey to this point.
Nikki Van Noy: How amazing to just have these new paths open up to you that you never even realized were there before.
Jamie Douraghy: Absolutely. I think what happens to many of us, we spend our lives on the small screen, and we’re unable to see the large scene that’s playing out in front of us.
Nikki Van Noy: I’m curious about that correlation. When you personally came out and saw that different view, when you saw the larger scene, what kinds of things did you realize you’d been missing before?
Jamie Douraghy: A lot. It’s hard to sum them up because so much has opened up as a result of just lifting my head up from that small screen, so to speak. What really opened up was the world. So, through these organizations I belong to, I’ve been able to do my workshops in countries within Africa and in China and in Brazil, and other countries within South America. It truly really opened up the big scene and the world for me.
Nikki Van Noy: Wow. Literally, it opened up the world. That is incredible.
Jamie Douraghy: Literally, absolutely.
Nikki Van Noy: So, now that you found this passion in your professional life, how is your personal life changed because of it?
Jamie Douraghy: My wife and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary last week and it was one of the happier moments. We renewed our vows and so there’s a renewed energy, a joyful perspective of life that is shared, whereas when one is sort of looking inward it tends to be solitary. When it’s shared, it is far more empowering.
Nikki Van Noy: I feel like that is such an important point because from what I see, so many people think this feeling of stuck is associated with “adulting” in some ways. It is a powerful point to me that the people who you love and are taking care of actually saw a benefit by you taking this leap and following the direction that lit you on fire.
Jamie Douraghy: Absolutely. What I noticed by living what I said I was going to live and do, then others around me tapped into their own source, and they started doing what mattered to them, and what they valued. They started changing their bodies, changing their minds and changing their circle of friends.
Nikki Van Noy: What is your favorite story about where you’ve seen someone begin versus where they’ve managed to end up by following this through?
Jamie Douraghy: The favorite story that I have with one of these incidents–actually so many. What I’ll share are the favorite moments when people will come up to me years later and they’ll say, “Remember that conversation we had about my why?” And I do. I definitely remember pretty much all of them because those moments strike close to me personally, and then they share, “As a result, I went on to become chapter president. I sold my business, and I actually wrote my first book because of the conversation I had with you, how are you doing on your book?” And this was a few years ago and I said, “Well I am still working on it.”
Now I can go back to that person and say, “Guess what? I completed my book as well.” And here’s why I complete it and here is how I did it. So, the stories that are shared with me are broad, and at the same time, they’re all about how they changed the direction of their life from when they were feeling small and now, they’re feeling that they’re accomplishing more in their life than they ever thought that they could.
Nikki Van Noy: It is so powerful that people are coming to you with these moments that you were a part of that, not only do they remember over time, but that they’re looking back at as these turning points in their lives that started with something new.
Jamie Douraghy: Exactly. That is why every conversation that we have with other people, in the capacity where we are able to listen and connect, can be very powerful. We never know the impact of our words on another person, once they leave us from that conversation.
The Importance of Fencing
Nikki Van Noy: There is a fencing theme in your book, so let’s talk to listeners a little bit about how that comes into play for you.
Jamie Douraghy: Absolutely, and you just put a smile on my face. Because that is something I care about. I have been a fencer for 43 years now. It’s been an integral and central part of my life. It is more or less my North Star. It’s been the one thing that I have been able to count on. I have lived in many cities around the world, and every time I would enter a new city, my port of entry, so to speak, into that particular city was always through the fencing club.
What I love about this sport and continue to love about the sport is the camaraderie, the competition, and the connection you make at the club, at a competition, or just one-on-one with your coach.
Nikki Van Noy: I am going to go ahead and put this out there for you that you are actually a three-time national champion.
Jamie Douraghy: Yes, I have won the Veteran National Championships for the US three times now. And in two weeks, I will have the honor of representing the US at the Veteran World Championships for the 7th time. This year’s championships will be in Cairo, Egypt.
I have never been to Egypt and the most exciting part about that is that our parents are going to join us, as well as my wife and my sister. So, we’re bringing the family along to share in the experience. It is more than just going to a fencing tournament or the world championships. It is about the journey that I have the privilege of sharing with my family.
Nikki Van Noy: That’s so cool. I feel like it’s such a rare thing to have such a consistent passion in life. 43 years is a long time to continually grow and find pleasure in the same thing.
Jamie Douraghy: Absolutely, and I think in a world where we are easily distracted by so much noise, when we can find something that’s meaningful, that we care about, that there is a community aspect to it, why not pursue it and just become great at it?
Nikki Van Noy: It does feel like sometimes those are the things that get pushed to the way side in favor of “responsibilities,” and I think that we forget about how important they actually are.
Jamie Douraghy: Sometimes the hardest part about going to fencing practice was getting out the front door. I found that as soon as I step through that threshold, I couldn’t wait until I stepped into that other threshold. The fencing club, for me, is similar to a dojo or any sacred space that once you walk into that place, nothing else matters anymore. You leave all those troubles, all of those thoughts at the front door. Once you put the gear on there is a ritual to it.
The gear is very protective, you have to be alert, and you have to pay attention because if you are standing there thinking about your profit and loss sheets, or something else that is going on in your life, the other person with the mask on and a foil in their hand does not care what’s going through your mind at the moment and they will run you through, figuratively.
Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, it is a good way of being reminded.
Jamie Douraghy: Exactly, because the moment matters.
Nikki Van Noy: Are there any other principles that you have taken from fencing and applied to other areas of your life that you feel are relevant to listeners here?
Jamie Douraghy: For me, it is the importance of having a coach. My former coach, who is now retired, was about 20 years older than me and originally from Japan. So, he brought a different cultural perspective, a different nuance of how to teach a student. My current coach is about 25 years younger than me and he is originally from Egypt. Both these coaches are past Olympians and he brings a completely different perspective.
So, I find myself learning from those older than me, learning from my peers, and equally learning from those younger than me. And again, that puts me on a path of discovery. Every single fencing lesson is about discovering myself and what I am capable of doing.
Getting to Your Why
Nikki Van Noy: In your experience working with people, does their why remain static over time, or is that something that can shift?
Jamie Douraghy: What I’ve experienced with thousands of whys that I have been able to see through workshops and through one-on-ones, is that the why really doesn’t change. It is our gut. It is what drives us on a daily basis. Our how and what will move around a bit, it will shift. However, when it is, as I call the why stack, when they align, that is what gives us the energy to be fearless, to have the courage to go forward. When you know, why, how, and what you do, fear is no longer an obstacle.
Nikki Van Noy: Do you feel like most of the people that you talk to are one some level aware of their why, or can it be an elusive thing?
Jamie Douraghy: I feel like without having gone through the process, it is elusive. People, when we generally ask them, “Why do you do what you do?” Generally, the answer is, “Well, I need to make money. I need to put food on my table. I need this.” And that is really not a why, that is what I am doing. When you get down to the core of the why, which is based on The Nine Whys created by Dr. Gary Sanchez, when you’re reading those nine why’s one of them is going to resonate with you.
One of them is going to jump–those words are going to jump out of the page right at you and say, “I have been waiting for you all your life. Now do something with me.” When that moment happens, for example, when I found out what my why was I literally had goose bumps. So, it manifested physically on my arms. I knew in my gut that this is what I needed to do. Now go out and find a way to do it.
Nikki Van Noy: Like a thunderbolt moment, it sounds like.
Jamie Douraghy: Absolutely, it was a clear aha moment for me.
Nikki Van Noy: So, for listeners who are resonating with what you are saying, what is the first thing that you want them to do after they finish this podcast to start getting some of this into their own lives? Are there any tiny actions that they can take to start to get closer to their own why?
Jamie Douraghy: Once you know your why, how, and what, the most important part is to come up with a plan, “Why am I doing this? Does it impact my why?” So, for example, I look inwardly to myself because my why is to contribute, so how can I help this entity? My what is to create clarity, so how can I help this entity gain clarity? My how, based on the nine why’s, is to make sense of the complicated situations.
If I am unable to make sense of that situation, it is probably better that I take a pass and not go down that path. I have learned and I’m learning to use my why, how, and what as my filter for big decisions that I need to make in my life.
Your North Star
Nikki Van Noy: So, this goes back, it sounds like, to what you were saying earlier about the North Star. It really remains a guiding principle that you come back to time and time again.
Jamie Douraghy: Absolutely. The way I am able to enhance that and make it better honestly is through my how. How I do what I do, how do I prepare for my tournaments? How do I prepare for my workshops? I use CliftonStrengths Finder as my go-to tool, and then I look at my top five strengths. Am I able to integrate these top five strengths thoroughly into my how so, they manifest in what I do? That really can be even more powerful, when you know your strengths and you can play to your strengths.
Nikki Van Noy: So, there is an idea of alignment here it sounds like.
Jamie Douraghy: Absolutely. It is alignment with myself. Once I am aligned with myself, then I can seek others out to align with as this journey was never done alone. For example, I need a coach. I need a fencing club. I need a competition venue. But all of those build-out into that larger world and it grows exponentially from there through alignment.
Nikki Van Noy: All right Jamie, anything we didn’t get to this time that you want to be sure listeners know?
Jamie Douraghy: Get out there, find your why, know how you’re going to make an impact on the world, and just do what you love doing.