For each of us, as we become adults, working to earn a living is both a necessity and a key part of who we become in our world. There are financial implications, social implications, feel-good implications, and implications out into the future that our choices now will impact. We call this “the ripple effect”. And when we are asked the easy and common introductory question by others of “what we do”, those that are asking are usually asking to see where you fit in and where they fit in. But imagine if, once you proclaim the current role you work in, that the same person asks you this more thought provoking question: “WHY do you do that work?” What would your answer be? How would you really respond?
If you are like most people you might respond with any of the following:
1. The work I do is gratifying.
2. The work I do affords me the lifestyle I aspire to.
3. The work I do pays the bills.
4. or something altruistic like, “Because I love what I do.”
And no response would be wrong or improper, yet none of those responses would actually answer the “WHY” question.
The “WHY” question is exactly that. The “WHY” question is the intention behind all the reasons that people give for working in the professions they toil in. The “WHY” question is the purpose of their efforts, every effort. In his book, “Start With Why”, Simon Sinek explores the “WHY” question and describes “WHY” beautifully;
“When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money-that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?”
When I read these few sentences, I stopped to reflect on my purpose and took the time to explore my WHY answer. And here is what I came up with for everything I do in my life.
The WHY of whatever I do is to make a positive contribution to the lives of others in ways that are meaningful to them, and leave them motivated, moved, and inspired.
So whether I am sourcing and qualifying great candidates, providing sound career advice to someone who is a senior executive or a new immigrant to the country where they are now living, consulting with a client hiring manager, helping my business partner with a simple request, providing support to a colleague who is buried in their work bench, training colleagues on simpler and easier processes for them… I do so to leave them in a better place than they were, in a way that adds to their lives.
Imagine if, in the business world, the results that people would more likely produce if companies asked their people their “WHY” question? Imagine if, in the business world, company leaders asked themselves “WHY” are we open? What is your “WHY?”