In our decision-making process, as adults, teenagers or even as children, there is one thing I believe we all do before making a final choice, and that is to weigh our options; to ask why. We ask why to gain more context in order to have a better understanding, and be more equipped to make the best decision possible.
Asking WHY is a habit of problem-solvers. We all ask ‘why’ because we seek to understand. It could be trying to get clarity on an issue or asking a question. But fundamentally, it is a way by which we communicate our lack of understanding of an issue or the need to truly understand an issue. WHY has become the most powerful word in recent times. Be it our life, love, work or business we do, we usually try to ask the question WHY to be able to ensure that we understand the message, we understand the conversation, we understand the person. In Africa and locally within our own Ghanaian environment, some of the success stories behind businesses, brands or initiatives has been the purpose and passion behind these stories.
And to find out purpose – what you want to do, who you are or what you should pursue, you will need to ask why. In a grand scheme of things, why can be likened to a directional sign. And when we have been able to clearly answer our why, we can confidently state it as the reason for taking a certain action or saying something. Irrespective of the definition of WHY, one key concept is understood. It makes our messaging simpler, our conversations more concise and it relays consistency as to what we do.
Knowing your why is the life of anything you undertake, be it in business, life or love. Your why can be modelled as a unique personality that can be nurtured from a simple thought or an idea. It is the constant reminder that keeps you grounded when you feel like walking out on your business. The market you sell to or what you sell is not enough to take you through the harsh times when the storms of failure come crashing at your door. The reason you start a journey is the mark of fulfillment when you start to see results and you begin to realise your dreams.
One thing that fascinates me about our WHY, is its ability to bring Humanity, Authenticity and Credibility immediately to any conversation, any story and any delivery. It is a key model that needs to be looked at more intimately in our spaces, be it the corporate field, the entrepreneurship field or the personal field. It is a model that should be focused on at any point in the leadership journey.
A recent study from Korn Ferry showed that companies with teams focused on their organization’s purpose had annual growth rates nearly three times the annual rate for their entire industry. According to the survey, 90% of people who worked in a purpose-driven organization reported feeling engaged in their work. In companies that are not as focused on purpose, only 32 percent of employees reported feelings of engagement and connectedness with the work they were doing.
High Performers at different stages of their lives have raised the necessity of asking, ‘Why do I do what I do and why does my business do what it does? In all African and Global examples, you would see businesses set apart successfully based on their WHY. Right from the cocoa farmer all the way to the board rooms, everyone has a reason why they do what they do. When they focus on that reason, be it a painful reason, the need to solve a problem or make an impact, that is the driving force to everything that they do.
Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” unshakable optimist Simon Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. Sinek is also known for popularizing the concept of “why” in his first Ted Talk in 2009. It has since risen to the third most watched talk of all time on TED.com, gathering 27+million views. Simon Sinek summarizes, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” “The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” This is the recipe for sustenance and followership of your business. When people understand the heart and soul behind the service or product you are providing, they feel a deeper sense of connection with the business.
From the Law of Diffusion of Innovation, it is said that if you want mass market acceptance of an idea, you cannot achieve it until you achieve the tipping point between 15% and 18% market penetration. Early Adopters are only about 13.5% of a population. This group is not as quick to generate a new idea but they are quick to embrace a product or idea that appears to be valuable to them. Once they feel like a product is useful, they will do whatever it takes to obtain it. They are also very quick to offer referrals to others about the products that they like. Now, the Early Adopters are the people who will follow you relentlessly if they can find a connection with your product or service, if they feel the same way you do by agreeing with the reason you innovated your product. This section of people as compared to the Early or Late Majority and the laggards are the most likely percentage to jump on your bus to support you in your journey.
In a crisis, business managers and world leaders need to remind their people of WHY they must push forward. Even in the midst of chaos, why should anyone stick with you. Your why must not be grandiose or overly ambitious. It must be heartfelt and seeking to make impact. Across the world today, aside the millions of people that have been laid off, there are those who salaries have been slashed. However, the pressure to perform at the optimum and in most cases to work longer hours is still mounting. Why should anyone stick with you in this crisis? What is the promised impact? That reason is what others need to know and hear to be able to know that it is all worth it.
What is the ending of your story?
One strong motivator is the impact you want to make. To find your WHY, you must seek clarity, and that begins with knowing what you want to achieve on your journey. What is it you stand for and at the end of the day, by what will you measure the boldness and successes of your choices? Answering these questions will contribute to the clarity you need to find your WHY.
What lights you up?
It is true that passion can feel unnecessary because it is not the sole determinant of success. But in finding your why, the driver of thoughts and actions, the reason you get out of bed could be your why. Your why should move up the food chain from being about you to being about something bigger than you. Forbes explains that a strong why is about connecting with what you are passionate about, knowing that when you focus your attention on endeavors that put a fire in your belly, you grow your impact and influence in ways that nothing else can.
Where do you shine?
Your why is meant to make you shine in the end. You may not be skilled or prepared for the journey but it keeps you on course. You need to ask yourself where you shine by naming the strengths and skills and knowledge you have gathered over time to solve a challenge. In your organization, what challenge are you frequently called to solve? What are you moved to do without being tasked to do? Where does your passion lie with helping to solve societal challenges? Are you moved to give often to the less privileged or do you get the urge to train and teach others certain life skills you may have learnt? You will then be more successful at focusing on your natural strengths and those things you are innately good at than trying to bolster or eliminate your weaknesses.
Live your Why
It can be hard to articulate your contribution and impact. But it is much easier to live it. As you live it, you can fully embody what you may have written down. To become anything, you must act and you must be. As you keep going, your why will be modified and made clearer to you.
In summary, what you do proves what you believe in. I will end by reminding you through Simon Sinek’s words that leaders simply hold a position or authority. A person who leads however is a believer of something and inspires others who can buy into that cause to follow him. Start to Believe, Sow, Inspire and Grow!
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.