“Why?” is such a simple question. Only three letters. Yet knowing it’s answer can be a real game changer. Not knowing can be disastrous. WHY might be the reason we get into bed feeling “it was worth it”. Or the reason we wake up in the morning to get out of bed.
Many projects start with high spirits and a WHY. Yet as time goes by they naturally enter a daily treadmill of tasks. Nearly all become obsessed with WHAT they do. Some will take the time to think about HOW they do it. Still fewer will be able to tell you WHY they do it. Were you ever involved in a project that you really cared about, yet abandoned? Did losing sight of your WHY, at expense of the WHAT and possibly the HOW, have anything to do with it?
WHY can really be a huge motivator. It can help us outperform ourselves. It can help us walk that extra mile when the going gets tough. It can also be the thing which unites us, offering a cause which enables us to cross boundaries and extend hospitality towards one another. A WHY can help us set aside our differences and look for common ground. All for the greater good.
Many companies and organizations start with a WHY, yet lose sight of it along the way. The quest for maximal profit can potentially overshadow the reason a company begins and continues to exist. However, profitability is not a WHY. Real WHY:s transcend commercial gain and offer something to believe in. Consider the following: do you get excited about the idea of being monetized? Does it make you tick on all cylinders?
Organizations that grow face many challenges. One of them being that they don’t take the time to share their WHY with new recruits. Expectations, rules and codes are high upon the agenda. But what about the WHY? Companies like to fashion visions, missions and values which nobody really believes in or lives by. A WHY is not necessarily penned to paper or etched into plaques. It is communicated through leadership and lived by. It ends up becoming an integral part of an organization’s DNA.
WHY-problems seldom confine themselves to an internal organization. They spread like an infectious disease to the way a company views and approaches their outside world. All to often clients and partners become pawns, necessary actors in a system governed by KPI:s. They exist for the sole purpose of maximizing profit. In contrast, organizations with a WHY have the potential of viewing and treating all their relations as co-enablers of purpose. Successful organizations do not only know WHY they exist, but also give their clients a reason to exist.
What is your WHY? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
For more inspiration view this TED talk by Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action. Related articles: Scott Goodson talks about sparking movements and 9 ways to boost your storytelling and Tribal quest for authenticity.