26 Sep So why do we start with why?
Simon Sinek asks us to “Start with Why”. So why do we start with why? I have always believed that to get the right business metrics in place we need to look at our personal lives. After all if our personal and business goals aren’t in alignment then perhaps we need to start with a reassessment.
But let’s start with why. I go to the local shop to buy milk. Why? Because I like coffee. Why do I like coffee? Because of the uplift I get when drinking it, because of the relaxed feel I get when it relieves my stress, and many times it is because of the social effect it has when I sit with friends, colleagues and sometimes strangers. But the real reason is that coffee releases dopamine – a feel good chemical in the brain – just as an aside it is the same chemical released by the body when you orgasm or when you take drugs – it is that high the body experiences. So the real ‘why’ reason as to my buying milk is that it is a simulated orgasm – no really. I am buying milk to release dopamine. The body craves this high you get and sometimes it is misguided into an addiction. I bet most reading this have had an addiction somewhere along the line because dopamine is highly addictive – channeled in the right direction it is also highly useful.
So how does an orgasm relate to business? That feeling you get when you close a really big deal, that feeling you get when you achieve something as a team and that feeling you get when you do something extraordinary. Dopamine – in many cases this is our why. Our natural high and our natural drug that gets the body wanting more.
Orgasms are much more fun when you are not alone, same with team achievements. Team sports have that extra feel about them – watch an NRL (Australia) or NFL (USA) or EPL (UK) winning team immediately after the siren. If you have been involved in a premiership winning team in any sport or field you know that feeling – that natural high that cannot be replaced. When you achieve something great as a team there is an irreplaceable feel amongst the team – it brings us all closer and it bonds us to a common purpose.
To be able to get that feeling as a team first you must find out what makes everyone tick. What gets their dopamine flowing. That is their why. If you happen to have a team with the same why then you are a long way ahead of the competition before you even start. The big problem with businesses, both large and small, is that we rarely find out what makes everyone tick, what gets their juices flowing. But we should. Have you ever worked for a company that sets goals but, other than making money for the boss, you have no idea ‘why’ you are doing it? Understanding ‘why’ makes working towards a goal immeasurably easier – and more fun to boot.
As a boss, as a husband, as a father, as a friend I have had to spend a lot of time by myself in my own cave trying to understand why I do what I do. Once I understood that it then took me some time to be able to verbalise it, then a little more time until I was confident enough to share it with people. Was I worried about what they thought? Initially yes but over the years I have become increasingly confident in what I do and the decisions I make. And it is all down to understanding why I do what I do. I understand that I can be a divisive character at times. I understand I have strong opinions that go against the status quo but I also finally understand and am able to back up my opinions with a ‘why’ I have those opinions.
A funny thing happened when I started integrating personal philosophy with work practice. It was like a relief came across everyone. Friends who I sometimes inadvertently upset now understood why I had those opinions, staff understood why I did what I did, and my wider family had a sense of relief that they finally understood me. Know thyself is far more than a hermetic axiom- it is now ingrained in our psyche. Why – such a small yet powerful word. Many of us teach our kids to question everything – to find out why people make the decisions or act the way they do. There are days when I question my sanity about teaching my now 9 yo to ask the question why.
So ask yourself, ask your staff, ask your boss – why? Once that is answered, we are all a huge step closer to creating a better business and a better you.