Set yourself apart from the pack by knowing your WHY

Freelancers are generally subject experts; sought after for their particular knowledge and skills. But, according to acclaimed author, motivational speaker and organizational consultant, Simon Sinek, knowing why you do what you do is just as important as knowing what to do and how to do it.

In his famous TED Talk – watched over 11 million times – Sinek claims that all the great and inspiring leaders, and organisations, in the world “think, act and communicate the exact same way; and it’s the complete opposite to everyone else”. He describes how this works in his Golden Circle.

Most leaders and organisations know what they do and how they do it but what sets the greats apart from the others is that they know WHY they do what they do. And it’s not about money, that’s simply a result of what you do. Why you do what you do is about a higher purpose, cause or belief.

Sinek explains that most people communicate from the outside in, focusing on the what and how before getting to the “fuzzy” part of why. But leaders and organisations that inspire do it the other way around; they communicate from the inside out; selling their dreams, purpose and beliefs to others.

Sinek aligns his Golden Circle to how the human brain works. When we communicate from the outside in (starting with how and what) people absorb and understand information like features and benefits, but it doesn’t drive behaviour. When we communicate from the inside out, getting people to understand and buy into the why of what we do, we are talking to the part of the brain that controls behaviour.

Knowing your why is important because, if you don’t know why you do what you do, how will you get others to understand what you do and take up your cause?

“In the project management world, it’s important to interrogate the why of the project,” says Tony McManus, MD of McManus Consulting.

“Only once you understand the why of the project can you truly understand how it aligns with the company strategy. All too often a project happens simply because a particular stakeholder says it must and these ‘vanity projects’ are understandably doomed before they start.”

Before embarking on any project, a good project manager (PM) would ask, and answer, two important questions: why are we doing this; and how does it align with the business’ higher purpose?

Knowing your why will not only keep you motivated, it will help you get your team and stakeholders to buy into your project and, once there’s a meeting of minds, and a sharing of beliefs, on the why, the how and what follows automatically.

McManus, has no difficulty articulating the why of his business: “we’re in the business of empowering project managers to deliver meaningful projects”, he says.

“Our why is about making sure that project managers are appropriately recognised and rewarded for the work they do.

“Our associates are masters of their own destiny, and McManus Consulting provides a lens through which associates are able to focus on their entrepreneurial dreams, while helping companies achieve their goals. It’s not hyperbole to say that projects change the world or, put differently, without projects there is no change. At McManus Consulting, our why is to provide motivated, competent associates that drive this change for our clients.”

© Tony McManus, McManus Consulting