The most important question; Why?

Originally Posted at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/most-important-question-why-nicholas-grear

Picture yourself at that party you didn’t really want to go to. You don’t know anyone there and so you decided to spend the evening hovering close, but not too close, to the table of nibbles while silently wishing you were at home in your comfortable track pants.

And then the worst thing happens.

You and one of the other reluctant attendees make eye contact. A complete accident, but now you both feel obliged to speak to each other. So after the forced “Hi I’m ___, nice to meet you,” the safe, consistent conversation starter comes out; “What do you do?”

What.

When.

Where.

How.

But never Why.

It is a question that we rarely consider and, more remarkably, rarely ask of others. Why do you do the work that you do?

We are rarely introspective when it comes to the work in which we invest countless hours. Hours spent at the cost of time with our loved ones. By the same token, companies and organisations are equally failing to reflect upon the rationale underlying the work they do. While they may tout extensive and idealistic Mission and Vision statements, this simple question is often left unanswered in the daily grind.

Our neglect of the big ‘Why?’ stems from both a lack of understanding of its importance and an unwillingness to confront the status quo.

The ‘why’ of any company and employee should be a paramount consideration. Often an organisation can be so focussed on the logistics and output, that its individuality and purpose falls by the wayside. In the same respect, the what/when/where can be so keenly pursued that employees forget, or never care to evaluate, why they do the work that they do.

‘People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.’- Simon Sinek

We are working in a globalised economy and, unless you are working within an extremely niche industry, there are numerous other businesses out their offering the same services as you. For this reason there is a constant need to push a brand, to network and to deliver on competitive pricing, so as to ensure company success. But rather than outlining your capabilities and pricing in a sea of beige business offers, it is by articulating a clear ‘why’ that you are able to cultivate something that distinguishes your brand and resinates with customers. Customer are loyal to the why’s, not to the what’s. Customers like to be sold the story as much as the service.

‘There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.’- Simon Sinek

I have previously discussed what I believe to be the fallacy of work-life balance (read here). Most modern organisations value their employees, for without them the company would not exist. As such, the motivation and passion of these employee’s is of great importance. The only way to ensure that an employee’s passions and drive are aligned with that of a company, is to clearly articulated the why that serves at the foundation of the work the employees undertake. Employees understand what they do, they understand how they do it, but rarely are they properly informed of why their service is significant. With the why comes a purpose, a meaning, and a reason to be at that office every day.

A clear why builds a business that is more than the work that it accomplishes. It builds a brand, a personality, a firm set of work ethics, and helps to fulfil those who work with, work for, and interact with the business.

An organisation should build a why that transforms a workplace from a lifeless, monotonous machine, to an enlivened, humanised and relatable workplace. Only then will work, no longer be work, but rather the fulfilment of a passion.

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