Some months ago I wrote about the importance of talking about Why you do what you do in Business and How you do it ….rather than just tell people what you do. Its not just what you do that counts …but why you do it….. and how you do it
And more recently a couple of things have had me thinking about this Why Question in terms of every individual. Why do we do what we do?
Firstly I have been researching for a presentation to a group of University Students looking at a career in Consulting when they graduate soon…. the topic they have asked me to cover is “Leadership and Your Personal Brand”.
This had me thinking about Leaders and the Personal Brand attributes needed to become a successful leader which inevitably lead me to the need to be Passionate if you wish to inspire others. …….. but to be Passionate it is vital, I think, to know Why you do what you do.
And then a personal situation hit me hard when a colleague of many many years and a personal friend at times over those years, very recently took his own life following a lengthy and at times visibly successful career.
So where is the connection …. Well the mate could have been seen as a successful leader as at times he was when needed very outwardly passionate about what he did . But in thinking back over his career I don’t believe he ever knew why he did what he did …apart from to be successful and have all the “benefits” that come with success.
In the 70s, 80s and 90s he had been a very successful salesman, sales manager and general manger/ceo. But in the last decade the world changed and the roles he wanted went away and he had nowhere to go that would deliver the kind of benefits he craved.
I believe he was unable to re-invent himself for the changing times because he was not in touch with his personal why.
After he became redundant yet again from a very Senior Role a few years ago, as he no longer fitted the new culture I had a long talk about a new life helping others by leveraging his immense experience, management expertise and broad base of connections.
But sadly he never took it up as another “corporate job” with a big salary, fancy car and large travel and expense account came along… but sadly it also went away in less than 12 months. And I am not not sure another one came along and I think he never recovered and sadly saw no future for himself any more.
Of course all of this has me questioning my personal why too…. I know what my passion is right now and I think it has always been my passion. But sometimes having left a high power, high salary and perks role more than a decade ago to fend for myself and pursue my dreams its tough to keep ploughing ahead waiting on the next big deal to come in or that big investor to back the dream project…… Unless you are able to reflect on Why you are so passionate about doing what you do.
In my last Blog Post The Importance of Being I talked about the difference between saying you are Passionate and Being Passionate … But clearly its very hard to continue to be Passionate unless you know why you want to do what you do.
In my research I found a very good book on the topic “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek.
A book for those who want to inspire others and for those who want to find someone to inspire them
Clearly if you aspire to be a leader you need to be able to inspire others ….. To do that you must be Passionate about what you do….. and in my opinion being passionate is just a hollow phrase unless you are very clear about what drives that Passion …. Why do you do what you do? … Why do you want to do what you do? … Why do you want others to respect you for what you do?
These are all fundamental questions which Simon covers in his book.
He was a very successful businessman running a large and profitable consulting business but was never happy doing what he did. So he spent some time focussing on why he wasn’t happy and what it was he wanted to do and from that soul searching came his WHY and that was all about helping others to find their personal WHY …. Hence the book and a whole new successful career as an author, speaker, trusted advisor etc … and one that delivers him what he wants.
He makes a very interesting point about the success of the Alcholics Anonymous 12 Step Program….in covering a key aspect of the process of becoming a leader.
AA have found over the years that people who complete the first 11 steps but not the twelfth will inevitably fail and slip back into their old ways.
The Twelfth Step being – Help Another Alchoholic find Recovery.
True leaders help others to succeed and to do that you must understand your Why as without that you will never be trusted,