Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What's your purpose? Your cause? Why does your business exist? And why should anyone care?
I just finished reading (well, listening a la Automobile University) to Simon Sinek's book, "Start With Why." Not only was it an interesting read, but it inspired me to self-reflect on why I do the things I do.
If you have a hard time answering any of the "why" questions above, I suggest you continue reading...
Great Leaders Inspire Action
By studying the leaders of the world, Sinek discovers each one thinks, acts, and communicates the same way-- and it's the complete opposite as everyone else! Rather than focusing on the what or how, these great leaders all have something in common: they start with why.
Sinek frequently writes, "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." Your business could sell the best cars in the world, but if it doesn't have their "why" established, it mostly likely will never reach its full potential. The same can be said for individuals. Sinek proceeds to give examples of organizations and individuals that started with why; Apple, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't the only person involved with the civil rights movement, yet he is best known for brining equality to the world. Why is this? MLK Jr. didn't give the "I have a plan" speech, but rather the "I have a dream" speech. He was able to instill a sense of ownership of the idea of equality among folks, who then in turn spread the word of this idea. Pretty soon, 250,000 people showed up at the same time to listen to MLK's famous words. MLK inspired people to take action because of his why, not by telling others how to stop segregation (most of his ideas how to stop segregation were actually quite bad!).
Everyone knows what they do. Most people know how they do it. Few people know why they do it.
The Golden Circle
Thinking about life with an "inside-out" approach, we must first establish our why (inner circle) before we discussing our how or what (outer layers).
"Why" is your inspiration; why do you get out of bed in the morning? What motivates you?
"How" is the plan you have to be successful; advanced education, business plan, etc.
"What" is the vehicle you use to arrive at your destination; selling computers, cars, etc.
People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Hi, Trent. Nice to meet you. What Do You Do?
How do you respond?
If you're like most people, you respond with your job title, such as "teacher" or "sales representative." Sure, the other person will most likely have an idea of what it is you do, but it's doubtful they will know why you do it.
I propose you change your answer to the question "what do you do?" to answering it by telling why you do it.
I'll use my own introduction as an example...
Rather than telling someone, "I'm a [student] physical therapist" when they ask what it is I do, I respond with:
"I improve the quality of life of as many people as I can through movement, inspiration, education, compassion, and leadership."
There Are "Leaders," And There Are "Those Who Lead"
"Those who lead," inspire us.
We follow "those who lead" because we want to, not because we have to. We don't do things for them, but for ourselves.
Just as in the MLK example, the 250,000 people that showed up to listen to MLK speak didn't show up for him, they showed up for themselves. They came for MLK's why-- which was to establish equality-- not to hear MLK's plan of action.
There are many leaders out there that are able to sell themselves and their business by manipulation or the promise of rewards (a "rebate" is a common one). Are these leaders truly leaders? I don't think so. They do not have a why for themselves or for their business. They might have success in the short term, but it's almost guaranteed these types of leaders will never reach their highest potential.
What's Your "Why?"
If you haven't yet figured out why you do what you do, it's time for some self-reflecting. Here are two ideas that can assist in this process:
1) Pretend you have to design a billboard that promotes you; your purpose, what you stand for, your why. What will it look like? What will it say?
2) What do others think you do best? Ask your three closest friends what they feel your why is. Tell them to be blunt.
Still can't figure out your why? Try starting with a "motto" of your attitude on life instead.
My motto is included in my signature in every email I send;
"There are those who want it to happen, those that wish it would happen, and those that make it happen."
First establishing a motto of the attitude you have on life can get you thinking about why it is you do what you do.
Improving the quality of life of others through inspiration, education, compassion, and leadership is my why.