Why You Do What You Do Matters Most
Do you know why you do what you do?
I used to co-run a clothing brand called Daydreamin’ Clothing LLC right out of college. I did this for 4 years as I relentlessly failed to get a normal graphic design day job.
I was devoted to making trippy and clever designs using the pen tool combining every font under the sun from Dafont.com. If you’re a true designer you will cringe at that last part.
Our mission was simple, we wanted to make what we thought was cool and sell it.
Simple enough right, what’s wrong with that?
We expected the artwork and our personalities to attract a large audience and inspire them to purchase our gear.
Ideally, we would be famous in no time.
Safe to say it never took off like we planned because we were so focused on what we did instead of why we did it.
If we had locked down a compelling cause for why we existed, maybe we could’ve attracted a larger audience and inspired action that was more profound than merely selling products?
This wasn’t meant to be, but it was a monumental learning experience for me.
Years later, I became aware of where things went wrong after reading Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why.” The biggest takeaway from this book is that “It’s not what you do that matters; it’s why you do it.”
“It’s not what you do that matters; it’s why you do it.” – Simon Sinek @prspctv_cllctv
This changed my perspective on not only business but life in general. From now on, everything starts with why.
The Golden Circle
Confusion happens when people get lost in what they do and how they do it.
That’s where Simon’s Golden Circle concept comes into play. It breaks down the correct order of communicating your Why, How and What to inspire action and attract an audience around your work.
You’ll also gain clarity in your decision making in everyday life situations.
To do this, start by visualizing a 3 ring target:
- The inner “bullseye” circle is labeled Why
- The second middle circle is labeled How.
- The third outer circle is labeled What.
The majority of us work from the outside in when approaching our work. Meaning we lead off with what we do or how we do it. We fully neglect the reason why we do it in the first place which is the most important part.
Everything starts with why.
Picture your why as a light shining in the night with bugs swarming around it—the bugs being your potential audience. The stronger the light, the more bugs swarm to it.
People see themselves in a compelling why. Especially if you tie in a compelling story as we talked about in part one of this series.
Your why is the driving force that gets you out of bed each day. It gives your existence a purpose.
It is your vision that inspires people to take action on your beliefs.
It provides context for everything you do–everything you do or say needs to clearly communicate back to the why.
The next important thing is the how.
When you know why you do what you do, how will you do it?
Your how is the infrastructure and blueprint to your why.
It’s the guiding values and principles that’ll help you go about your mission.
How you will do it leads to what you will do.
Finally, what do you do to accomplish that mission?
What you do should always tie back to your why. The why provide context for what you do allowing easier decision making when in the moment.
Your what is external and is the easiest thing people can identify—it’s what most people think they are attracted to you for, when in reality, they are attracted to why you do it in the first place.
I thought I was attracted to Apple products because of the products they create. Yet, after reading “Start With Why,” I realized I’m attracted to the brand due to their vision of being original and breaking the status quo.
I see myself in their brand.
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Why in Action
Here’s my favorite example of why in action.
On August 28, 1963, over 250,000 civil right supporters showed up on the Lincoln Memorial steps for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech”.
There was no social media then so the magnitude of this many people congregating is phenomenal. They didn’t come for MLK the person or a supposed 12-step plan for civil and economic rights—they flocked across the country due to his compelling cause of uniting all people and ending racism.
His strong belief resonated deeply with so many that it naturally spread across the nation—recruiting an army of like-minded individuals.
That day, he attracted an audience and inspired an entire nation because of his why. It is one of the most memorable why’s in our nation’s history.
It’s a prime example of why you do what you do matters the most.
My why has drastically changed over the years. I believe I exist to create something bigger than myself. I have a relentless drive to help others realize the creative potential they possess and how they can contribute to the world.
My mission is to help create as many valuable assets to the creative community. This is how I will bring my why and vision to life.
Drawing, blogging, speaking, podcasting, etc. are my what’s and everything I create stems back to my why. Making decisions moving forward on my creative path is much easier with this focus.
My Challenge to You
Do you know why you do what you do?
I highly recommend starting off by reading Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why.”
Following that I have a list of questions I got from my good friend Cory Miller of the Behind the Brand Podcast.
I want you to take time to answer these questions:
- Who are you helping?
- How will their lives improve from their interaction with your brand?
- How is the world different because your brand exists?
Before you do anything else, start with why. You will build an audience that truly matters and inspire action that can make a difference.
- A compelling why will inspire action and attract an audience around your work.
- Knowing your why brings clarity in your decision making in everyday life situations.
- Your why is the driving force that gets you out of bed each day—it gives your existence a purpose.
- Your how is the infrastructure and blueprint to your why.
- Your what is external and is the easiest thing people can identify.
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