Children come into this world equipped with a very powerful word — Why. They ask lots of why questions about anything and everything. It’s their way of gathering data and learning how the world works — often to the exasperation of tired parents.
As we grow up, go through our schooling, navigate our careers, go on to build a business, we’ve stopped asking our most powerful question of all. Why do we do what we do?
My go-to-marketing strategist creative partner was telling me about a talk she heard at a conference the previous day. The speaker addressed this very question,“What is your why?” It goes beyond what you do for a living and the reason everyone places first, “I need to make a living.”
Finding our own individual why makes it possible for us to push through difficult times of uncertainty. It’s our bedrock, our anchor, our focus. It gives us an unwavering certainty of knowing who we are and our purpose in the world. Without knowing our why, we can easily get distracted and frustrated. We try to be all things to all people. Without knowing our own why, it’s impossible to lead others.
At some point, I did have to ask and find my own why. Why do I do what I do in spite of the stressful uncertainty this industry has for me if I’m not strategic about it, meeting client expectations and deadlines, dealing with un-constructive feedback, wearing many hats, the list goes on.
Why I do what I do may sound simplistic and self-serving at first. Because of who I am as a person and to feel complete as a person, I have to be in a creative pursuit at least 50 to 70 percent of the time to make my day worthwhile, whether it’s for clients, a side design project or my own artwork. It’s how I’m wired and why certain jobs burned me out, from boredom literally. It’s possible these businesses I was working for didn’t know their why, could not convey a meaningful purpose and ultimately developed a toxic corporate culture.
But more importantly, I’m reminded of my deeper why. I’ve been putting my focus into working with educational and environmental organizations — areas I feel a strong affinity and dedication. It’s why I started collaborating with MP&G Marketing Solutions because of this shared passion for working with organizations whose mission is to make the world a better place.
In turn, this is the very core of what we do for our clients. We help them get to “their why.” It’s easy for any organization, for-profits, and non-profits alike, to be swept up in the day-to-day functions of balancing maintenance and growth that they can lose sight of the all-essential why they are doing what they do. CEOs, executive directors, and board presidents might know but they may not know how to clearly articulate this to inspire those they want to lead. They might be stuck on how best to convey “their why” to key audiences. Mission statements (if they get read) can fall short. Often they lack the emotional essence that connects brands with humans and humans with humans.
Getting to why shapes an organization’s story, a story that is authentic and that holds purpose. In this day and age, people are hungry for authentic and purpose and eager to support those who can provide it.
Knowing “their why” organizations can effectively lead and inspire both internally and externally. It strengths their brand. By knowing “their why,” allows any organization to be a success in making the world a better place.
Want more inspiration on this idea? Check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk: “Who Great Leaders Inspire Action.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristin Maija Peterson is owner, art director, designer, writer, and artist of Grand Ciel, a virtual design studio whose focus is helping educational and environmental organizations succeed in their mission to make the world a better place. She offers creative services packaged to solve issues of clarity, reach and awareness, retention, growth, and sustainability.