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Why your why is so important

April 21, 2023

Every week I get an email from the folks at the back strengthening programme I’m doing. Despite being super informative they tend to end up in my ‘read later’ folder (surely I’m not alone in this optimism?) but one arrived recently that I read straight away. It was a behind the scenes look at Michael and Lara’s business and why they do what they do.

It was lovely to learn more about people who are having such an impact on my life. What I notice is that knowing why their work matters to them has upped my determination to do my bit in their crusade to improve the state of the nation’s backs by doing my exercises!

The key to deeper connection

As humans, we are programmed to seek connection. The long running Harvard Study of Adult Development reveals that good relationships are the key to happiness. You can strengthen those relationships by working on deepening your connection and a powerful way to do that is by sharing your why: the values, beliefs and passions that motivate you.

Simon Sinek, author of ‘Start With Why’, explains the brain science behind this approach in his popular TED talk ‘How great leaders inspire action’. In a nutshell he argues people don’t buy into what you do, they buy into why you do it, so if you talk about what you believe, you’ll connect more deeply with those who share your vision. That’s why your ‘why’ is so important.

Just sharing the plan doesn’t suffice

This doesn’t just apply to leaders in business. It’s the same if you’re managing a team, running a scout troop, campaigning for a new bus route, fundraising for your local hospice or parenting children. People do stuff, especially going above and beyond, when they understand why it’s important (to you, them, the world…). If they’re going to get on board with your idea they want to know you’re on the same wavelength. This means you’ve got to talk about what’s driving your plan and not just the plan itself.

Work out your why then communicate it

So what’s your why? Why do you do what you do and how could you share that story to create deeper connection with customers, colleagues or contacts?

How about the people around you: do you know what makes them get out of bed each morning? Whose ‘why’ are you unsure of, or making assumptions about? How might it change things if you were to ask them about it?

Here’s my why (and why it’s changing a bit)

For example, I coach because I believe we’re all a work in progress, full of possibilities and potential, and we have agency to direct our thoughts and actions to enrich our life. I’m inspired by seeing people realise their capabilities, get back in touch with who they really are and put this at the heart of what they do.

Other people’s jobs have always fascinated me. When work’s going well, it gives you challenge and opportunities to reach your potential but I meet too many people damaged by ‘interesting’ behaviours in the workplace. I want to equip them with the means to challenge and change that.

That’s why I’m shifting my focus from supporting just women to doing more work with HR professionals, irrespective of gender. These people are key players in the transformation of organisations. In helping HR increase their HR increase their confidence and resilience doing the complex and demanding work they do, I hope they will be better able to improve the work experience for everyone.

This isn’t an exclusive focus: I’m still working with people in all sorts of roles for now, but I’m excited about the possibilities of supporting HR professionals drawing on my experience working alongside HR colleagues in my learning and development roles.

Read more about me and the values behind my business.

Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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