This week’s episode is focused on answering the question, “What’s your why?” 

 

What we cover in this episode: 

  • 1:09 – Introduction to Katina Peters
  • 1:53 – Why does the “why” matter?
  • 5:42 – Finding your “why” can help with overwhelm
  • 7:12 – Simon Sinek
  • 9:28 – Separating the what and the why
  • 11:46 – How do we start to determine the “why”?
  • 18:00 – Long-term visualization
  • 19:56 – How do we communicate our “why” to the world?

Why does the “why” matter?

In order to have a long-term, sustainable business and keep everyone on the right track, a clearly defined “why” is key. In order to proceed with your business and keep your motivation up, your why is really critical to define. You then have a way to communicate to the world, what you are trying to accomplish and the difference you are trying to make in the world. 

Rather than selling the “what” we want to sell the “why.” Once defined, your goal should be to communicate that why to your clients, your team, and the world, which will build camaraderie and the culture of your company. Your “why” will help you attract the right team and clients. It gives a bigger meaning to the daily tasks you ask from your team, everyone is pushing in the same direction and they feel that they are a part of the movement and share the vision, direction and goals of your company.

On a personal level, defining your “why” and being clear about what you’re doing can give you more fulfillment on a daily basis. Many people graduate high school and go straight into college or learn a trade at a young age. We graduate and enter the corporate world on autopilot. Now you’ve gone into business on your own and now you find yourself years later on the hamster wheel, questioning “what am I doing?”  Many of us don’t stop and think about why we’re doing what we’re doing or we are doing. It could be out of necessity or to fulfill the expectations of family or friends. Whatever the case, self-reflection usually comes later in life and completing this exercise can give you some insight into your own personal why as well as the why of your company.

Finding your “why” can help with overwhelm

In determining and outlining the why, saying “no” to the right things can become easier. You can quickly determine the things you’re interested in and not interested in. Sometimes business owners get into the trap of saying “yes” to everything. That’s not always a good thing. 

Saying yes to everything can lead to working with clients who don’t align with your company or the services/products you offer, high-maintenance clients you dread talking with and working more than you’re being paid. 

Being really clear about the type of work you’re doing and the people you want to work with, helps a ton. When opportunities come in the door, it can help you determine whether you want to take it on or not. The answer must be “Yes, it’s in alignment with my goals and my why.”

That clearly defined why makes integrating your marketing message (what you’re telling, your clients and your team) much easier as well. When you have consistent messaging, attracting your tribe becomes more natural. Your “tribe” are those individuals who believe what you believe and are in it with you to achieve a similar goal. 

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is an author and motivational speaker who is well known for his presentations and books about this topic. One of our favorite quotes from Simon Sinek is, “People aren’t buying what you do, they’re buying why you do it.”  

In Simon Sinek’s well-known TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, he discusses companies that have withstood the test of time and Apple is one of his big examples. They lead with “Think different” which communicates how they operate. They make computers, phones and iPads, but the reason they make those amazing products is because they operate differently and set themselves apart from other companies. They lead with their why, “Think differently”, then they explain their how, by creating beautifully designed products, and then their what, making computers, phones, iPads, etc. 

His YouTube channel has many other videos that contain valuable content about vision and leadership. He has authored many books, but the two mentioned in this episode are Start With Why and Find Your Why.

 

Separating the “what” and the “why”

If you ask a business owner “Why are you in business?” The answer usually comes out “We deliver these services…” or “we make this product”. That is the “what” though. The “why” is the reason you are delivering those services or making that product. What do you believe? Why is your service going to make the world a better place? 

By asking “what is your why”, you are uncovering your long-term purpose. This helps you avoid sweating the small stuff and helps to put things in perspective. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff, is another one of my favorite books that we mention. Obviously, you still have to go through the daily tasks and when things don’t go right, you know you’re in it for the long haul and can cope more easily than if you’re just taking it day by day. Establishing your why and being intentional about incorporating your why can bring more calm into your business and your life. There are going to be bumps along the road but if you have this purpose, it’s a smoother sail to see past this week or this month or this last mistake.

 

How do we start to determine the “why”?

Journaling can be one of the best ways to get into your own head. Begin by asking yourself questions, taking some time to reflect and write down the answers. For example, sometimes business owners are very focused on financial goals, like earning $150k by next year. We then start to dive deeper into that and ask, “Ok, well why?” The answers are very different depending on the individual, but it could break down to “I want my kids to live in a good area, go to a good school so they can be successful.” You can keep asking why to continue getting deeper.  

While financial goals are good to have, we tend to focus on a more purpose-driven why. You’re going to have to dig a bit because it is likely not the first answer you will give. 

  • Who are you trying to serve what type of difference are you going to make?
  • What do you get excited about? 
  • What do you like to do? 
  • What would you do for free if you didn’t need the income? 
  • What are your natural strengths? 
  • What do people ask you questions about when they need help? 
  • Where do you add the greatest value? 
  • Where have you contributed the most (in business, in life)? 
  • How do you measure success in life?

Once you have answered these questions, continue asking the why underneath these, like we did with the first financial example above. To dig deeper, you could ask yourself, “Why do you like to do that? What is it about that that I like to do?”

There are no wrong answers when you’re going through these questions and journaling. Self-reflection and some soul-searching will be necessary so give yourself the time and space to allow yourself to answer these questions honestly and thoroughly.

Long-term visualization

Long-term visualization can be helpful to answer questions like, “Who do you need to become to fulfill your why?” Like we mention above, journaling to reflect on the whys can be a good way to do this. It is important to ask yourself questions so that you can bring more self-awareness and more direction. The Rachel Hollis guided meditation mentioned in this episode has since been removed, but she still has some other really great resources available on her YouTube channel

As you implement a routine with journaling, one of the challenges is that journaling can become demanding on time if you get into a flow. Setting timers can be helpful so that you don’t get lost in the writing exercise and can make a very intentional decision to stop or continue if you are making good progress.

This is not easy work. Digging this deep and asking these questions of yourself can be uncomfortable and mentally demanding. Ultimately, it is going to give you a more fulfilling life, with a deeper understanding of your true motivation and where you’re heading. 

How do we communicate our “why” to the world?

Once you’ve defined your why, you will be able to incorporate it into the mission and vision to your company. It’s something you want to see in the culture of your company among your team. Starting with the why can bring the right people together who truly understand your company because of the right reasons. If you start with the why, your clients and team will believe in your company on a deeper level.

Another one of our favorite quotes by Simon Sinek is “What you do simply proves what you believe.” If you’re starting with the “why”, you’re able to do the “what” because of and to serve your why. 

We all like to think that we are very logical when it comes to making buying decisions. In reality though, buying is an emotional process. By effectively communicating your “why” that shows what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s going to be easier to build trust and loyalty and connect with people on an emotional level. 

Conclusion

Starting with your “why” is an important part of business ownership and personal reflection. Defining your “why” helps keep your business sustainable with a long-term vision in place that everyone can follow, including clients, your team and general community. By clearly communicating your why, it will help you attract the right clients and team who believe in the deepest direction and goals of your company. It will also help you personally to be clear about what you’re doing and have that self-reflection to gain more insight.

Having a clearly defined why can help with overwhelm. We discuss how this type of clarity can make decision making easier. 

Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker who is well known for his presentations and books about this topic, is a large inspiration for this episode. We discuss his ideas and provide links to resources you may find helpful if you are interested in expanding your knowledge in this area. We break down the “what” of your company vs. the “why.” There is a distinction between the two that is important to understand. 

We then discuss how to determine your “why.” Journaling is a great practice to implement for many reasons, but can help you uncover some of these deeper motivations. We list some helpful questions you can ask yourself to get started. Long-term visualization can help you further your analysis and help you gain a clear picture of who you need to become to fulfill your why.

Lastly, we talk about how to communicate your why to the world, incorporating ideas about how to weave this into your company’s vision and mission and how the purchasing process is an emotional one. By effectively communicating your why, you are able to make that emotional connection more easily.

 

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