Written by Karen Roth
This is the big looming question posed by Simon Sinek in his Ted Talk (2009), you can view it, here.
The reason I’m posting this now is that this is the topic I’ve chosen for my Femfessionals luncheon today.
This simple question has plagued me for years.
In 2009, the same year as this talk was first aired, I had recently graduated with my Ph.D. after SEVEN. LONG. YEARS – I chose to give up a lucrative photography business and return to school at the age of 39 – The month after graduation, I opened a yoga and wellness center in a suburb of DC. I hired several yoga instructors and one of them, a super-sweet girl named Kelly, kept talking about the “why?” At the time, I really didn’t understand what she was talking about…but, it kind of stuck in my head.
Kelly kept saying, “you have to know your WHY”.
Seriously, it started to bug me.
Now, 7 years later, I finally get it.
The “WHY?” is everything – the crux of your passion.
Without it, you have nothing to draw from. It’s an empty well.
Simon Sinek speaks about the “Golden Circle” – if you haven’t watched his talk, or read his book – basically, it’s 3 concentric circles – originating from the inner “why” circle, to the “how” circle, and the outer “what” circle.
The problem is that most entrepreneurs and corporations have it backwards. We all know “what” we do, most of us can tell you “how” we do it, but very few of us know “why?” we do it.
So recently, at one of my Femfessional luncheons – when none of us could get our “pitch” done in less than 5 minutes (ideally, it’s 30 seconds), I realized there was a problem – It brought me back to this question of “why?”.
I realize that most of us go on and on about “what” we do.
Unfortunately, the “what” is not very interesting or inspiring to anyone. Without a clear WHY, we end up sounding too salesy and a bit manipulative. It’s also why I’ve always hated being asked, What do you do? Although I do like asking the question…But, if you ask me WHY I do what I do? – now THAT I can get excited about. It’s intriguing, a bit mysterious, requires a lot of soul searching….it’s deep.
Right up my alley.
I watched Simon’s Ted Talk and it got me thinking more about WHY? I am doing what I’m doing. It’s taken me many sleepless nights to get to the bottom of it. It’s not as simple as you might imagine. Go ahead and try it. WHY? are you doing what you are doing? If your answer is, “to make a profit” or to “get a paycheck”, that’s not good enough. That’s a RESULT of what you do. That’s not WHY you do it.
If you don’t know your WHY – why should anyone else care?
That’s the question.
This simple question just might change your life.
Want to know my “why”?
Here it is:
Everything I do is guided by my belief that beauty can transform the ordinary into extraordinary, inspire hope, and empower radical love.
Then, I got curious about Sir Richard Branson’s WHY? I actually found a quote – At Virgin, we’ve always been driven by ‘why’. Why do we do what we do…? To be original, disruptive and have serious fun – to change business for good.
Once you clarify your WHY? The what/product becomes a tangible proof of the underlying cause. Brilliant.
What’s your WHY?
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