By LESLI DULLUM-TUTTERROW | Columnist
Every business owner or leader has a “why” — why did you start this particular business as opposed to another?
I’ve worked with a variety of business owners and when I’ve asked the “why” question, I’ve received as many variations to that answer as there are owners.
“I love doing hair …”
“This business has been in my family since …”
Or, “This stuff is in my blood.”
If we own a business or work for one, we all have a “why.” Do you know yours?
Like a curious three-year-old making discoveries about the world around her, we would do well to ask a few why’s.
Why is that important? (Thought you’d never ask!)
In the absence of a clear “why” (why you own this business, are in this industry, or work for this company), work erodes into being a taskmaster, often giving way to complacency and discontent. A disconnect with your “why” — i.e., working only for money — becomes drudgery.
In fact, anything less than genuine zeal for your “why” leaves employees purposeless and quite likely working for themselves, not you.
Do a gut check. How is morale in your organization? How willing are people to go the extra mile, happily? What do people say to each other and to the world about what it feels like to work for your company? Would they know what you stand for and why your company exists? Would people say they feel valued? Inspired?
As a leader, you must know and articulate your “why” to everyone else in the company — not once, but many times over.
In the absence of this, your organization is like a sailboat, sans wind, in open waters, adrift.
“Why” answers purpose. Why does our business exist — beyond offering jobs and making money?
Why did I open a juice bar/eatery back in the 1990s? My passion was to inspire people to care for their bodies, restore their health, and become educated and discerning about what is in their food. Keeping our “why” in constant focus made daily decision making easier. We simply took any issue — hiring, ingredient or menu decisions, etc., and filtered it through our purpose to ensure congruency.
Renew your purpose. Once your “why” is clear, you now have a bigger, more powerful purpose. You might find you have something that your business offers that is beneficial, unique, and matters to people’s lives. When you understand what you really offer, the next step is to invite your staff/teams into that picture. Help them see your bigger purpose and their vital role in it.
Revisit your mission. Mission provides a road map to navigate what we do. It provides focus and engagement of our people. Our mission describes what we accomplish for the benefit of those we serve. In other words, it conveys the value experienced by the people who utilize our goods or services.
A clear and viable mission statement is also what helps each member of the team or staff to understand what they do matters. Make your mission come alive!
Refresh your vision. Can you see in your mind’s eye where you want to be in one, three or five years from now? Vision answers the question, “Where are we going?” Taking quiet time and space — what I call “cave time” — for this inspirational, visionary thinking is crucial. Who are we now, and who do we want to be moving forward? How will we invite others to catch the vision so we are all sailing in the same direction?
Purpose, mission and vision ought to be big and bold enough that it inspires others to want to give their best, day in and day out, regardless of obstacles and changing circumstances.
Your purpose, mission, and vision ought to wow you and become what drives you. If well thought out, communicated, and lived out daily — i.e. evidenced by your words, actions and decisions- — they become woven into the fabric of your culture.
Everyone in the company ought to be able to tell you why the company exists, what the purpose is, what their role is, who you all serve and why it matters.
It is not too late to create an organization that inspires. With a bit of intentional thinking time, you can begin to discover your “why” and let it transcend to your mission and vision.
Gut check: Are you excited when you think about this? If so, chances are others will be too.
— Lesli Dullum-Tutterrow is chief wellness officer and executive consultant/trainer for The Wellspring Company. firstname.lastname@example.org.