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  • Writer's pictureMike Bensi

Why is the "Why" So Hard (and so Darn Important)

I've been known to use the word "why" like my three-year old.

"Why did you start your business?" "Why do employees work here?" "Why do you work?"

This past month, the table has flipped. Starting my own business has brought the opportunity for friends, clients, and even my kids to ask me "why". And the toughest why to answer has been my own "why" - my purpose of my business. The reason I do what I do.

I'm now in the same seat as many of the entrepreneurial and organizational leaders I've worked with to pull out their own whys. And why, might you ask, is the "why" so hard to draw out?

  • We're busy. Starting and running a business can get us lost in the daily grind of the never ending things to do.

  • We're distracted. Did you see that squirrel? Hey my Instagram pic just got liked!

  • It's soft. Whys are often described as your life's purpose. How you'll change the world. Putting food on the table and meeting payroll won't change the world, but it buys you another day.

  • It's scary. To talk about your "why", you have to dig deeper than just "it's a job" which makes you vulnerable and uncomfortable.

But these feelings won't help give you direction for you or your team. When things get busy, your why can help keep you focused on your priorities. Why you started in the first place or why you joined the company keeps you centered.

And, it helps others get drawn in. A strong why can inspire others. Customers see the motive behind why work. Employees connect their core belief to your company's core belief.

So what can you do to create your "why" for you and your team?

Look “outside” yourself. Talk with customers you've worked with in the past. Or those you're working with now. Being able to see the things you're doing, that you don't even know you're doing, can identify what makes you unique.

Identify what has made you successful. As you talk with customers, ask what they find most valuable in your product or service. What do people remember about the buying or service experience?

Know what you're not good at. A why shouldn't be for everyone. A why helps draw people in and keep out those who don't connect with your purpose.

Look at what others doing. Don't copy others, but if you're stuck, review competitors, other companies in different industries. These comparisons keep help you identify what you like about what they do, and what you don't like.

So what's the "why" at Bensi & Company? We say we help organizations and leaders create healthier ways to work. Health is a word that stuck because so much of our clients' and our own lifestyles are tied in the work we do as leaders. Our emotional and financial success. If we stay focused on creating better health for organizations, then leaders will be successful. And if leaders are healthy, so are the companies and team members they lead.

At least that's what we think today!

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