Updated: Nov 10, 2019
Why do you do what you do?
In his latest book Simon Sinek calls this our “Just Cause”.
I have recently been asking this question to various businesses and individuals as we discuss their corporate strategies. For Olympic athletes, every fibre of their being is about getting faster, stronger, higher. A shoe company might offer them a £100k to wear their shoes and apparel when they race, but if the athlete believes that an alternative brand are 0.1 second faster, the athlete has a decision to make between the pursuit of the end goal at all costs and balancing this with the enabling factors which might prevent them from racing at all - funding.
The same is true in business.
We all have compromises to make based on our circumstances. How much equity do we give up to pay for tooling for your first batch of production? The actor who works to cover bills until they get their next break. The thousands of young people who balance their business ambitions with going to college and getting an education.
These are all compromises which support the larger goal, even if they might not be something you would immediately want or choose when setting out.
On social media, we only ever see one side of this coin. Everything relating to business is always celebrated as "have faith", "work hard and magic will happen etc" without ever even discussing the importance of enablers. It almost seems like there is a shame in it.
Anyone who knows me will know that there are certain things which drive me. Personally I have always tried to use my talents to make a positive impact in the community. One of my favourite jobs was working public sector helping to create economic growth, create jobs and support the community. That isn’t a job you do to get rich, but it does provide huge moral fulfilment.
In launching my own consultancy, this also caused me to review my business’s Just Cause?
According to Simon Sinek your Just Cause should be: For Something - affirmative and optimistic; Inclusive - open to all of those who would like to contribute; Service oriented - for the primary benefit of others; Resilient - able to endure political, technological and cultural change and Idealistic - big, bold and ultimately unachievable.
This is mine:
“To discover, create and share tools which enable others to grow and flourish, creating a positive benefit to the community”.
Everything I do will hopefully work towards this goal.
[The word flourish is probably not needed to make the sentence work, however it has personal significance from a friend who gave me advice when I most needed it so I decided to include it.]
In practise, I give my book and content away for free and will always help someone in need. The ethics behind this approach are important to me. I scour the internet for articles and read a huge number of books to discover the best techniques I can find, before distilling 400+ pages down to something you can read in 60 seconds before sharing online. I write on topics to provide a voice where I don’t see one, if I believe it will help someone somewhere.
In doing this I am fortunate to have a constant dialogue with over 16,000 people on a weekly basis with the desire to add value - supporting your own personal or business growth.
This, combined with everything else I have going on, helps me move closer towards my desire to make an impact, but I too still have bills to pay and so have to balance decisions between spending time on paid work and doing things for the greater good.
It is my belief that in operating in the approach I do, of the 3% of my connections who might need hands-on support at any one time, that they might pick up the phone or recommend me to a friend. In doing so I am delighted to support the organisation in person, tackling their biggest problems or supporting their biggest opportunities, enabling their growth and the benefits which come from this such as increased employment and economic activity which supports local communities. I'm probably also helping someone I know.
If I only spent time on private paid work and keeping knowledge to myself, it may give a short term boost to a narrow sector of the market; however this would miss the chance to have a much greater impact through giving it away for free to everyone. It is a gamble, but one which I believe is right.