In Breaking Why, author Frankie Russo examines how we find our purpose in life and suggests that this journey, unlike a straight line, is more like a wheel that advances and reverses its path as seekers discover and later reinvent the best version of ourselves.
To explain what he means by the “WHY” of the title, Russo quotes Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” We are constantly in the process of breaking and rebuilding our WHY, the author posits. There’s no one-size-fits-all purpose, he adds. But “[a]t the root of it, all our WHYs revolve around helping others.”
To guide readers through the process of reconsidering their WHYs, Russo offers a ten-step method, reflected in chapter titles such as: “Make (or Break) a Plan”; “Believe and Commit”; Relearn Patience and Persistence,” and “Hack Your Failures: Turn Mistakes into Opportunities.” Each chapter is devoted to one step and ends with a section that invites reflection.
Russo is a successful serial entrepreneur, and he shares the experiences that enlivened and tested him from those ventures. He also draws on the creative spirit of people like Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York project) and Antonio Mendez (who masterminded the plan to save diplomats in the 1979 U.S. embassy attack in Iran).
Breaking Why includes references to and quotes from famous and not-so-famous people, each well-chosen to highlight Russo’s message. The author’s writing is crisp, direct, and well organized, and he delivers his material in an upbeat, encouraging voice.
One quibble is the title: a mish-mash of catchphrases that makes little sense. And the material isn’t particularly new or groundbreaking.
Still, it never hurts to be reminded to look at your life and recalibrate your goals, and Russo’s guidance is steady and solid. Those struggling to find meaning in their lives will find plenty of food for thought here.