What’s your “Why?”

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I know it sounds philosophical, but it really isn’t. Understanding your “why” is an essential part of business. It is a logical question that you should periodically re-evaluate: what is the core of my business and exactly why are we doing this?

Simon Sinek gave a great Ted Talk a couple years ago on “the why” and how thinking from the inside out can make a difference in your company. Consider, why is Apple so innovative? Why did the Wright Brothers achieve the first flight, when smarter and better funded groups were also working on it? As Sinek explains, it’s beyond money. Don’t think of profits, think of your cause, your motivation. When you delve into it, you find that most people know what their company does, and some know how they do it, but very few know why they do it.  What is your company’s purpose, cause and belief? Why does your organization exist?  Thinking beyond the traditional profit/loss ratios is why some leaders inspire and some don’t. You have to understand the why behind your company and believe it and promote it. According to Sinek, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. He’s right. If you don’t know why you do what you do, how can you get people to buy what you sell, or employees to follow your leadership?

Then there’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sinek points out that King didn’t tell people what to do, he told them what he believed. Remember, “I have a dream…”? He gave people his why, his belief, but not a plan. King is an example of those who lead and inspire us. We want to follow them because they start by giving us their why.

One particular example I heard of recently is in the disaster repair and construction business. What was the “why” for starting their company? The owner explained that he could understand the trauma of disaster and wanted to fix it. His family had been in a fire when he was young and they had lost everything. The result was that his family was displaced. It’s a great personal touch. He gets what it’s like for his customers. That’s his why.

Think about that for your company. How does your company relate to your customers’ needs? To build a market-leading company, show your passion and your why. It you believe in your purpose, others will follow – employees and customers alike. If you don’t have a clear idea of what your why is, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your purpose. Let us know how we can help. We’ve worked with many companies and associations and helped them determine or fine-tune their why.

To view Simon Sinek’s entire Ted Talk on inspirational leadership and starting with “Why,” go to http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.    

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