Knowing Your WHY, the Clarity for Authentic Success

Knowing Your Why

Why is the purpose, a cause or a belief that underlies your organization’s existence. It provides a clear answer to each of these three questions:

  • Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
  • Why does your organization exist?
  • Why should anyone care?

The Challenge

The challenge in getting to your WHY is it is rooted in the limbic brain, the seat of emotion and behavior. This part of the brain has no language. It’s difficult to articulate something that has no language connected to it. The limbic brain is the seat of decision-making. It’s interesting that we make decisions in the limbic brain, the seat of emotion, not in the neocortex, the logical part of the brain. Until we work on it, our WHY is a fuzzy thing – it’s easy to tell someone what we do and how we’re different from the other organization down the street. The problem is WHAT and HOW don’t inspire action. We don’t make decisions based purely on facts and figures. We make decisions based on emotion, on how we feel about a product or service – or the person that represents them.

“Commodities start with WHAT. Leaders start with WHY – they inspire us to action with WHY!” – Simon Sinek

Doing This Work is Critical

As a leader, doing the work of clarifying your WHY and the WHY for your organization is critical to your success. For most small organizations, the WHY of the leader is the WHY of the organization. It’s not easy work, but its valuable work. When it’s done, you’ll have the key to success that matters to you.

The Process

What is the process for clarifying your WHY? You clarify your WHY through a process of reflection, finding the thread of insight in your experience, your observations and in feedback from others who know you well. It’s work that requires focused time and willingness to go internally to where you’ve experienced your personal definition of success. It takes patience and willingness to trust others as you obtain feedback from three to five close friends, also. Through this process, you’ll establish the connection between your feelings in your limbic brain and the results-oriented neocortex where language resides. By taking the time to do this, you can clearly express your WHY. Remember, when you start with WHY, you inspire your team to action.

Your Role as the Leader

As a leader who can articulate your WHY, you become the keeper of the WHY for your organization. You are the optimist that believes all in your vision can be accomplished. It’s your job to keep the WHY always before the team, motivating them to keep moving forward. You also need the discipline of HOW people to help translate the WHY into a HOW for products in the marketplace. Next week we’ll explore the relationship between WHY and HOW. For now, can you articulate your WHY? WHY does your organization exist?

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