[Serendipitously enough, I was then in the gym this afternoon and listening to one of my favorite podcasts on honest business building and the hosts hit on something that I think really drives home this approach of connecting with your why, which I'll touch on below. Watch video at right ==>]
When we (re)connect with our Why — the reason a project, objective, or to-do is important to our business — it legitimizes our otherwise non-urgent projects which often got deprioritized by all the urgent “fires" we are forced to put out in our organizations.
By connecting to the Why behind a given objective or project, we’re in essence building a business case (a strong rationale) for doing a thing, especially when that 'thing' falls into the important-but-not-urgent category. Let’s take this vague concept of culture as an example.
In the theme of the previous post, forging a culture you can be proud of falls directly into this category of “important but not often urgent."
Work/team culture is an important thing. I think we can agree on that.
But I can tell you from my time trying to upstart my own venture — intangibles like culture and team morale and whether we’re “living our values” was hard to focus time and resources on when Survival and Urgency were the two modes we operated in most.
Each time I felt the urge to cancel our weekly team pow-wows — where we checked in, enjoyed organic coffee (roasted on premises!), and sharpened each other via Seth Godin’s Krypton Course — I had to reassure myself that this “culture stuff” matters. I had to remind myself that if I wanted to build an organization I was proud of, it was this stuff (ie. the pouring into our humans) that mattered more than the emails I needed to send, the potential partners I need to call, or the interns I needed to direct.
I had to connect to the Why behind pouring into my staff in order to push through the dip of doubt of doing the important-but-not-urgent thing.
Our values are only our values if they cost us something, remember.
How I've used this strategy in brand building
The Doulos Brand Platform is another example of a project where the Why is a primary motivating factor. I’m currently championing and spearheading this project, and in all candor, it’s been a struggle to see this thing to the finish line (because it’s important but never urgent).
[For reference: a brand platform is a guide to how we look, sound, and feel as a brand. It’s the things we believe as an organization and how those practically play out into our brand messaging and how others experience our story. It’s an intentional guide and important first step to making raving fans of our donors and supporters. To get a more visual idea, you can see amazing examples of this here and here.]
In the begining, my motivating force behind building this brand platform was because it was fun and I was excited about running point on building a delightful brand experience like those of the organizations I look up to. Then, as my zeal naturally waned, and as others stopped asking me this project, it kept being pushed lower on my to-do list.
How will I ever get excited about this again and get it done? Maybe you've asked yourself the same question on certain projects you've started on as well.
I had to reconnect with WHY it is important to our organization. I had to revisit my belief that Doulos can be an enviable brand, and that a well thought out brand will be key to making raving fans. I had to remind myself that a delightfully designed brand is a repeateable and memorable brand. I had to remind myself that our message — a beautiful message of hope and transformation through education — truly matters, and that a consistent and intentional brand message helps to spread our story and multiply our impact.
Reconnecting with my core beliefs about how brand identity is key to building a successful organization helped me revive this project and get moving on it.
Practically, it’s helpful to ask: Why is this project so important? (And not just once you’ve found yourself putting off a project, but before, during, and all the way to the finish line).
The guys in the podcast even go as far as advising that as you write out your project, include the desired outcome and Why right there on your task list. This way every time you look at your project task list, it’s right in your face of why this matters.
This tactic has ramifications WAY beyond work, as you can imagine. If i’m able to think through why asking humbling asking for forgiveness from my wife matters, or why revisiting a conflict I had with my parents will help us build a better relationship, or why spending two hours in the middle of my work day to “shalom and granola” with a close friend matters, well, then I’m able to execute on the important stuff that too often gets marginalized in my life. And that, my friends, is key to holistic success.