Once a month I meet with a group of self-employed women and we discuss wins, losses, and frustrations we encounter while running our businesses. These meetings typically consist of coffee, swear words, laughing, and sometimes tears. One topic we come back to regularly is connecting back to the “why” of our business.
The idea of finding your “why” comes from a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek where he explores how inspirational leadership can be a powerful tool for success. The idea is pretty simple: people invest more in companies with a clear purpose and strong beliefs. The product or service a company is selling must also be good, but the initial conversation leads with the “why.”
This sort of thought process has been extremely valuable for me as a small business owner and a blogger (sorry/not sorry I didn’t want to write a sponsored post about your diet app) so in 2016 I’m applying the same process to my personal life. I’m using three of Sinek’s key takeaways to help define my personal “why.”
1. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
OK, I’m not going to lie this is a tough one to start with. It requires you to dig deep and get uncomfortable. Formulating my ‘why’ took a lot of listing, scratching out, crumbling up of paper, cursing, and wondering why I ever thought this was a good idea in the first place. But like any difficult task I felt a surge of self-confidence once it was completed. In no particular order here is the foundation of my personal ‘why’ :
We’re all in this together – as in be good to each other, speak kindly, hold doors open, smile, and take deep breaths before you respond to that email/text/Facebook post that really pissed you off.
Forgiveness is the only way forward – gossip, anger, grudges, and animosity are such energy sucks and can distract from all of the great things going on in the world. I forgive for my own sanity, closure, and to move on with my life; not because I think you are right.
Have fun– somewhere between building blanket forts as a kid and paying bills as an adult we forget about fun. In 2016 I want to acquire experiences instead of things, laugh at least once a day, and refuse to grow up. My Dad does all of these pretty well so I am hoping it’s genetic. Anyone that is not on board with fun can just read on to the next point.
2. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.
It seems pretty simple, right? It’s not really though, people (including myself) are scared of looking like an asshole in public so we edit ourselves. For professional purposes editing is very important, for personal purposes it seems ridiculous. This is the part where I talk about how much I love social media because you can post content that reflects your beliefs and find your tribe. For me this involves posts about cute animals, food, beer, and wondering when (if?) I will ever feel like a grown up. All the people who follow me have mentally said “I see what you’re about and I’m into it.” I love interacting with people who get my ‘why’ and who, without social media, I might have never met. Real life friendships work the same way so don’t be afraid to be your glitter, unicorn, bold patterned self who might have a sailor mouth (oh hey, thats me!).
3. Think, act, and communicate from the inside out.
Now that I have my ‘why’ nailed down, it is time for some action. I’m ready for a year full of new friends, experiences, challenges, and a lot of impromptu dance breaks (because fun, remember?!). I feel slightly relieved to have a reference sheet for when life gets messy and I feel lost in the forest, because those times are unavoidable. It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know about myself but there is something special about having my ‘why’ posted where I can see it every day. Here is to a magical year ahead, thanks for coming along for the ride.