Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?
People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
Start with Why answers the following questions: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty?
In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does.
Energy excites. Charisma inspires
Energy is easy to see, easy to measure and easy to copy. Charisma is hard to define, nearly impossible to measure and too elusive to copy. All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of WHY; and undenying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves.
It’s not Bill Gates’ passion for computers that inspire us, it’s his undying, optimism that even the mos complicated problems can being solved. He believes we can find ways to remove obstacles to ensure that everyone can live and work to their greatest potential. It is his optimism to which we are drawn.
Why, but know How
WHY-types are the visionaries, the ones with the overactive imaginations. They tend to be optimists who believe that all the things they imagine can actually be accomplished. They are focused on the things most people can’t see, like the future.
HOW-types live more in the here and now. They are the realists and have a clearer sense of all things practical. They are focused on things most people can see and tend to be better at building structures and processes and getting things done.
One is not better than the other, they are just different ways people naturally see and experience the world.
Know Why. Know How, now what?
The leader sitting at the top organization is the inspiration, the symbol of the reason we do what we do. They represent the emotional limbic brain. What the company says and does represents the rational thought and language of the neocortex.
Just as it is hard for people to speak their feelings, like someone trying to explain why they love their spouse, it is equally hard for an organization to explain its why.
Put bluntly, the struggle that so many companies have to differentiate or communicate their true value to the outside world is not a business problem, it’s a biology problem. And just like the person struggling to put her emotions into words, we rely on metaphors, imagery and analogies in an attempt to communicate how we feel. Absent the proper language to share our deep emotions, our purpose, cause or belief, we tell stories.
Communication is not about speaking, it’s about listening
For companies to be perceived as a great leaders and not dictators, all their symbols, including their logos, need to stand for something in which all we can believe.
For a logo to become a symbol, people must be inspired to use that logo to say something about who they are.
There are people who walk around with Harley-Davidson tattoos on their bodies. That’s insane. They’ve tattood a corporate logo on their skin. Some of them don’t even know the product! Why would rational people tattoo a corporate logo on their bodies?
In truth, most people who tattoo Harley-Davidson logos on their bodies have no idea what the stock price of Harley is. They have no idea about some management shake-up the week before. That symbol is no longer about Harley. The logo embodies an entire value set–their own. The symbol is no longer about Harley, it’s about them. Randy Fowler, a former U.S. Marine and now general manager of a Harley-Davidson dealership in California, proudly sports a large Harley tattoo on his left arm. ‘It symbolizes who I am, ‘ he says. ‘Mostly it says I’m an American.’ Customer and company are now one and the same. The meaning of Harley-Davidson has value in people’s lives because, for those who believe in Harley’s WHY, it helps them express the meaning of their own lives.
Achievement versus success
For some people there is an irony to success. Many people who achieve great success don’t always feel it. Some who achieve fame talk about the loneliness that often goes with it. That’s because success and achievement are not the same thing, yet too often we mistake one for another.
Achievement is something your reach or attain, like a goal. It is something tangible, clearly defined and measurable.
Success, in contrast, is a feeling or a state of being.
In the course of building a business or a career, we become more confident in what we do. We become greater experts in how to do it. With each achievement, the tangible measurements of success and the feeling of progress increase. Life is good. However, for most of us, somewhere in the journey we forget why we set out on the journey in the first place.
Those with an ability to never lose sight of why, no matter how little or how much they achieve, can inspire us.