Why? It seems like a simple question. but it isn’t? Think about it. Why do you do what you do? Why do you work for the company or person that employs you?
According to Simon Sinek, you might have to think hard because we often focus on the whats in our life. Sinek wrote an interesting book called Starting with Why. The book addresses the issue of how do certain leaders, brands, or organizations inspire devotion or action from people. He points to brands, like Apple and Southwest Airlines, and people, like Martin Luther King, Jr. What Sinek found is that these brands or people start with why. They asked and answered the question of why they are doing the business they are doing or leading the movement they are leading. In other words, they began with their purpose. Sinek says this is not the typical approach. Usually we focus on the what or a result. The message of Apple is more than we are a great computer company. Look at their recruitment site, http://www.apple.com/jobs/us/welcome.html. See some themes, “change the world”, “make an impact”, “Less of a job, more of a calling”, and so forth. Apple is trying to inspire their employees to build the game changers and innovate. A result is not as inspiring as a purpose. As Sinek says, Dr. King didn’t have a 10 point plan for success, he had a dream.
In short, as Sinek would state, people don’t buy what you do, they buy (and keep buying) why to do it. The companies that know their why are Seth Godin’s remarkable brands.
I work for government. As such you would think that purpose would not be a problem. But it really is. Government service (or work) really shouldn’t be short on purpose. After all, we are suppose to be public servants or civil servants. We purport to work for the common good. Of course, anti-government sentiment does not help. But so what?
Dr. King lead a revolution that was not well accepted. Apple is the darling of some, but hated by many. These inspirational few faced the challenges and moved on. It is not about being loved or liked. It is really about something more.
I recently talked to a friend who works for the main CLE provider in Colorado about change. That discussion touched on this topic because she stated that one of the truly important things that helped Colorado CLE was when they focused less on credits and more on education. Or as she would say they started to think beyond credits. The funny thing about that seemingly simple or trivial point is that it is not simple or trivial. That is Colorado CLE’s purpose. They are about legal education and learning for attorneys. They are about practice improvement and growth. It is probably why they produce such high quality products. And that is the point! When employees have a purpose or when a brand has a purpose more than a product then good things start to happen.
So here is all I am asking you, what is your why? Why do you do what you do?
The following is a TEDx talk by Simon Sinek on his ideas. Enjoy! It may just change your day and dare I say life!