You might call this article part 2 of How Your Why Will Move Others To Action (the story about my girl, orangutans and cupcakes). You’ll need to read it first for all that follows to make sense.
Made popular by Simon Sinek (his TED talk has been watched more than 19.5 million times) is starting with ‘why’ to inspire people to action.
He explains that most people/leaders/organisations/businesses know and talk about themselves in this order:
1. WHAT they do – the products or services they provide
Some are then capable of explaining 2. HOW they do it. This is often called a Unique Selling Point or Proprietary Process or Method, and is designed to make them stand out for being special or different from everyone else.
Very few people and organisations articulate their 3. WHY – their purpose, cause or belief. And it’s the WHY that inspires us.
Sinek turned this order of communicating on its head, and said that when you start with the WHY – and speak from the inside-out – you inspire people. Then you can shift to the HOW and the WHAT.
The reason it works is because it speaks directly to our Limbic Brain – the part that controls behaviour and makes decisions based on feelings. It’s simply not rational, like the HOW and the WHAT.
I love the way Sinek has decoded all this. As he says, to lead, leaders must inspire. It’s their job. He and I have the same WHY in showing leaders how to do this.
AND, this all needs to be taken one crucial step further.
Let’s go back to that cupcake stall for a moment. If my girl had just used her WHY, she would have said:
“Well, the orangutans’ habitat is being destroyed and some of them are dying and some of the young ones don’t have a mother any more and they need people to look after them.”
That’s the cause. It was WHY she was running the cupcake stall (with all those packet vanilla cakes and lumpy – and runny – orange icing).
The clincher though was “I want to help them.”
That put her in the picture, deeply personally, and it made all the difference.
Every time I write an article or newsletter that includes revealing something of myself, my inbox is on fire. Experience tells me that the more me I am, the more impact I have.
When I shared in a recent newsletter a big (read: painful and expensive) business lesson, one email that stood out above and beyond the rest (and I was inundated that day) was from a CEO who said not only was it best one I’d written, but she didn’t think she’d ever forget my advice.
When I shared in one of my books how difficult it was to launch my business because I thought no-one would actually pay to work with me, I received emails from people saying they wanted to work with me because they had felt like that too.
Eighteen months after I gave a talk about confronting conversations, in which I explained the tactics so many of us employ that don’t work – and gave an example including how I felt about my daughter losing her brand new school jumper and how she couched the subject with me (read: manipulative to the hilt!)- one of the women who’d been in the audience came up to me at a networking event and asked me if the jumper had been lost again, and then went on to tell me how much influence and impact I have because I’m so real and people feel like they know me. I was blown away by her passion. And the fact that, eighteen months later, she remembered what I’d spoken about.
Call it genuine, authentic or transparent – it doesn’t matter. We crave connection. We want leaders we want to follow, rather than have to. We want to love going to work, and to be part of a greater purpose and sense of meaning. We want to work with other business owners who get us, so we can do great work together. We respect and trust people who are real, and don’t put on a mask the moment they walk in the front door of office. They speak directly to our limbic brain.
Yes, give us your WHY. Absolutely. We need to know what you/your organisation/your business stands for. Otherwise, we won’t really care. And please, make sure you add your YOU: your take, your experiences, your stories and what they mean to you and why it all matters.
They’re all you have that make you unique. And they’re the seeds of connection that grow your presence and charisma, and your ability to inspire people every time you speak.
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