While I am professionally known as an International Bestselling Author and Small Business Partnership/ Brand Strategy Expert, who I really am goes much deeper than that. I know because I finally and clearly understand my whys. To illustrate, I’ll be your lab rat with an abbreviated demonstration of what I mean and why I relentlessly preach “why” to my clients.
Human Lesson #1:
“Why?” is the most important question you will ever ask yourself about anything, whether in business or your daily life. With thanks to fellow brand strategist Simon Sinek, who verbalizes this better than anyone in his smash bestseller Start With Why, and to the big man himself, Tony Robbins, who peppers you with “Why?” until you want to punch him in the face (if only you could reach that high), I lead my clients through an oft frustrating repetition of “Why?” during my Human Foundation/business strategy sessions. They look at me in utter confusion and want to know when we’ll start talking about business???? What they don’t yet understand is that to get to any business conversation, one first needs to get to the heart of what matters to people as human beings.
Because what matters to us is why we do what we do.
Because people are not business. Business is people.
If something doesn’t matter, people won’t do it well—or at all. Just ask bosses whose employees phone it in. Want to apply this to the fiscal side of business? Ok, what do you think this behavior costs each year?
People operate on motivation, and underneath that is their “why” for feeling motivated. Your why could be joy, fear, love, health, money, security, humor, wanderlust or relaxation. Conversely, it could be overwork, martyrdom, laziness, anger or something even more heinous. But this is only the first-level why—and it’s not enough. You have to go deeper, deeper, deeper to understand why your why is what it is. (How’s that for a sentence?)
Clearly there are whys that work against people (I’m an ax murderer because my father was one . . . and so on). Awareness is the key, and if these folks are willing to dig deep, dump the blame and begin making healthy, significant changes in their lives, they will finally get what they honestly want and deserve.
Not everyone is willing. If you are, here’s how.
How Do I Get To Why?
In this abbreviated exercise, insert your own short story. Then answer the “Why?” with “Because . . ..” Do this over and again until you get to your core. Your heart. Your soul. Your instinct. Your psyche. Your mojo. Your pith. Your inspiration. Whatever you call it, get there. That’s where your answers are.
Yes, this is a journey inside yourself. Hint: The more self-aware you are, the shorter the journey.
You may need to ask yourself a hundred whys until you hit on the real and honest answer. You’ll know when that is because your body will feel it. You might cry. You might laugh. For damn sure you will exhale all that silly stress you’ve been carrying around trying to be someone or something you are not.
Here we go.
Recap of my short story:
I create business, business partnership and brand strategy for small entrepreneurial businesses, and I write books for that same audience.
Because I learned in the best possible way—by losing my own business, money, stature and identity—that while those are areas in which I excel, there is a much bigger message I want to spread than just business. So I use these areas of skill as my platform.
Because I discovered that, in isolation, business doesn’t much matter to me. Nor do business partnerships, strategic alliances, office politics, customer management, financial success or any of the other accepted measurements of success.
Because I learned though my loss that what really matters to me is people, what they bring to business, why they do so and how they become free to create a loving, peaceful, interconnected, service-oriented and prosperous world of their choice.
Because I come from that place of free to be. It was a small mid-American town where my family was everything. Where friends dropped in for coffee and ended up staying for dinner or until Christmas. Where folks supported each other even if they were sometimes being nasty humans. Where broken hearts mended with love, cookies and some couch time, and illness and old age were respected, not hidden away. Where people helped and encouraged each other, cheered each other on, chastised when appropriate and held each other to the same fair standard. Where people loved you enough to let you fly. This is the foundation that has supported me unfailingly through nearly six decades of experiences, cultures, temptations, highs, lows, mistakes, home runs, high energy, exhaustion, loss and, finally, a peaceful heart.
Because in that small town, I learned the secret to life: Surround yourself with positive, honest, candid, good-energy people, and be one of them. Being one of them motivates me to want to show others how.
Because that is where my heart is.
Why On Earth Are You On Earth?
Think about something: You might love travel; eat or drink too much; spend like a thief; are an avowed philanthropist; are only happy when you are outside; are a serial entrepreneur; a movie director; run your business with an iron fist and a cold heart; help people get rich; steal from them; own a health food restaurant; sell rot-gut hotdogs on the corner; sell designer fashion to the glitterati; and so on . . ..
None of this is random. Ask the child of an alcoholic why they do what they do. Or the health food restaurant owner, who might tell you he does what he does because he lost his overweight father to a heart attack. Maybe the boutique owner watched her beautiful mother dress for formal evenings out and wants to be just like her. The movie director likely grew up in the town’s one-screen movie theatre, and knew escape would come through the fantasy of films. The entrepreneur saw his single mother imprisoned by menial jobs. The rest? Do they spend their days doing things they hate with no clue why?
I know all these people. You do too. And all of them are entitled to the same happiness you are. Those who are best at what they do have dug into the whys deeply and are crystal clear as to motivation, and are at peace with it. They understand themselves so well that their work is pleasure and passion. They have found happiness, success, profit and freedom in what they do.
Business Lesson #1: It’s an oldie, adapted. Love yourself, do what you love and love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.
How Do You Start?
Your whys are already embedded in who you are. They run your life. It’s best to get to know them and use them to your advantage.
If you are looking for clues as to your whys, look at your tweets, FB posts, blogs. Pay attention to your dinner conversation, your TV show selection, your off-hours activities and the lessons you teach your kids. Ask your mom and dad what you were like as a kid. Examine the roadblocks in your life and understand how you managed them. Did you climb the mountain? Build a tunnel? Hitch a ride? Say eff it and give up?
Asking “Why?” will unveil the real you. It might just crack open some doors that have been shut for your whole life. Don’t be afraid to look into that mirror.
Because Maya Angelou did. And she Knows Why the Caged Bird Sings, which liberated her from the darkness of her childhood.
Because Rapper Mims, straight out of the selfie generation, did, and knows his New York roots account for [This is] Why He’s Hot.
Because, well, why not?
Because the soul you find—and free—will be your own.
If you want a deep deep dive into your whys, jump on over to Simon’s site and go for it.