235: The Power of Finding Your Why with David Mead

By November 29, 2017Podcasts

 

Author and Simon Sinek colleague David Mead shares the importance of starting with why you do what you do–and how to find that why.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The benefits of starting with why
  2. Examples of effective and ineffective “whys”
  3. The process to find your why

About David 

David is committed to a world in which the vast majority of people wake up inspired to go to work, feel safe while they’re there and go home at the end of the day fulfilled by the work they do. David co-authored Find Your Why, with Simon Sinek. The book provides a step-by-step, practical guide on how to discover the Why for any individual, team or organization. David has presented these simple, inspiring ideas on 5 continents to over 150 organizations in a wide range of industries.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

David Mead Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
David, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

David Mead
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think we’re going to have such a fun chat because I’m really into what it is you do. But in doing a little bit of digging in your background I saw that you were once an Apple Store associate. Any fun tales from that time? And are you getting the iPhone X?

David Mead
The thing that sticks out in my memory about that is I don’t know what I was thinking but I showed up to my interview, it was a group interview, and I showed up in a shirt and tie, and they literally laughed at me. And so, I learned very quickly that we were going to be a little bit more casual there which worked out great. But I loved it, loved working there.

To answer the other question, absolutely, yes. Funny story about that, I woke up like 15 minutes before midnight on November 2, I think, or November 3 when it was released, and I was like, “Ah, I’ll go back to sleep. It’ll be fine. I’ll be able to order it when I wake up next time,” because I’m 40 and now I wake up multiple times at night.

And so, I happen to wake up at like 12:45 and I got on and I completed my purchase, and they said, “Your delivery date is December 5 to the 15,” and I was like, “What? Are you kidding me? This is supposed to come out like next Friday.” And so, on the actual release date, when it was going to be available in stores, I didn’t want to wait that long so I was planning to wake up at like 4:00 o’clock in the morning and go stand in line like an idiot at the Apple Store so that I could get it before December.

And so, I woke up and I checked my email and I happen to have an email from Apple saying that my delivery date had bee n moved up to November 13, so I was like, “Oh, I can wait for 10 days.” But absolutely, yes, I am getting the iPhone X.

Pete Mockaitis
So, we are recording this just before it’s entered your hands. And how are you feeling?

David Mead
I’m feeling anxious and I have a great deal of anticipation. I can’t wait for next Monday.

Pete Mockaitis
I think I also have one coming my way, and I’m excited partially just because I’ve been on the 6, and I feel such a whiny, entitled, you know, impatient, I guess I’m just barely a millennial at 34. I think I’m on the threshold there. And I guess I’ve been on the iPhone 6 for a while, and it seems like maybe there’s something wrong with it, but sometimes I’ll like push the camera, and I have to wait four seconds   for the camera, and I can’t live like this, David. I can’t live like this so I need an upgrade and the 10 was there, so I said, “We’ll take it.” Plus, the dual camera, I’ll be shooting some important business videos with that, so this is necessary.

David Mead
Of course. That’s a right off, of course.

Pete Mockaitis
It is essential that I have this outrageously expensive toy for my business.

David Mead
Indeed.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Well, so, anyway, I want to talk. So, you’re in Simon Sinek’s organization, and so you co-authored with him the book Find Your Why which is great. And so, if anyone hasn’t already seen Simon’s famous, infamous TED Talk about finding your why, it’s well worth it, and we’ll link to it in the show notes. But for those who aren’t going to do that, can you give us the real quick summary on kind of what’s the primary concept that you’re working with here?

David Mead
Sure. So, the concept of Start With Why is very simple. It basically outlines that every organization, and even our own careers, operate on three levels, which is what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. And everybody knows what they do. This is the product you sell, the service that you offer, the title that you hold. Some people know how they do what they do which means how are you different or special, how do you set yourself apart, what are sort of the guiding principles, or how you run your business that’s different than anybody else.

But very few organizations and very few individuals understand and, more importantly, can clearly articulate why they do what they do. And by why, we don’t mean to make more money or to increase market share, or sell more stuff. By why, we mean, “What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? What’s the human reason that you do the work that you do? Really, why does your organization exist and do the things that it does?”

And so, the premise here is that most individuals, most organizations start with what. They tell you what they do. They might tell how they’re different or special or better, and that’s usually where it stops. But the most inspired organizations, the most inspiring leaders, those that we look up to, those that have more loyalty, those that are more profitable over time, those that have great cultures, they all do it backwards.

They think, act and communicate starting with why first. They tell you why they exist. They tell you the vision of the world that they have. They tell you the human reason that they’re doing the work that they’re doing. And, as human beings, we naturally respond to that feeling. We are more loyal. We are drawn to these organizations or these people who have common values and beliefs to us.

And so, it’s not that we’re necessarily drawn to everybody or every organization that articulates why they do what they do. We’re drawn to the ones that share common values and beliefs with us. And so, that’s really the key. That’s where loyalty and trust and relationship comes in. And the opportunity that we have is to shift our thinking, shift our communication, and shift our cultures to be more why-based. And as a result, see more success financially, see more loyalty and more growth rather than having those things be the goal which is really not that inspiring to anybody.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. So, now, could you maybe give us a couple examples of a why that you’re not talking about profit, shareholder value, market share from an organization perspective, nor are you talking about just making a ton of cash, money, as an individual’s perspective? So, could you maybe give us a couple of examples, articulations of, “Oh, here’s what I mean by a why”?

David Mead
Sure. So, first of all, before I give you those, just to the point you made, there’s nothing wrong with all those things. There’s nothing wrong with growth or nothing wrong with making a ton of money. I think the challenge comes in or the danger comes in when we place an unbalanced amount of focus on those things because, ultimately, that’s not what drives fulfillment and meaning which is what we, as human beings, ultimately seek.

So, I’ll give you an example of an organization’s why and then I’ll give you an example of an individual’s why or I’ll use my own. So, an example that we like to use a lot is Lego because everybody knows Lego. Right there, a pretty popular brand, and they happen to be the most profitable, excuse me, toy company on the planet, and I don’t think that’s an accident. I think it’s because they have learned to be very clear about why they do what they do. They weren’t always that clear historically.

And it’s funny, as they sort of – if you follow their history, as they have been more aligned with why they do what they do, they’ve done better. And as if they worried more about, “Let’s just beat the competition. Let’s come out with all these different products because our competitors are doing the same thing,” when they compete on what and how their profitability goes down, loyalty goes down, so it was really interesting to see what has happened just with Lego. But Lego’s why, essentially, is everything they do is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

David Mead
So, in their why – and this is true for any individual or any organization – we have no idea what the product or service is. For an individual, we should not know what you do for a living by your why. Essentially, we don’t want any “whats” in the why. Those have their place but they’re just not supposed to be in the why. So, that’s an example of an organization’s why.

I’ll give you another one just for a little added flavor here. I’ll give you the why of our organization. Let’s start with why. In everything that we do is to inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, we can change our world.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

David Mead
On an individual example, again I’ll use my own. My why, the way that I articulate it, is to propel people forward so that they can make their mark on the world. So, what that means for me is every day, no matter what situation I show up, whether it’s at work, or at home, or with my friends, or in the community, at church, wherever I am, if I can just help propel people forward, help them take that one extra step forward so that they can be a little better than they were before, so they can go on to do the amazing things they’re meant to do in the world, that’s what really fills me up and inspires me.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And so, then, you laid out some of the benefits in terms of zeroing in on your why. That’s so meta, why does the why matter? So, in terms of inspiring organizations, leaders, and then also just tends to lead to the great sort of, I guess, immediate financial or more short-term type results like profits and whatnot in the case of Lego there. So, I guess I’m intrigued then.

Now the book is called Finding Your Why. How does one arrive at that why statements? And could you sort of walk us through a bit of the process? And maybe even before we do that, say, how do you know when you’ve hit it? It’s like, “That’s it,” versus, “That’s not it.”

David Mead
That’s a great question. The why is a feeling. It is a belief. It is something that is borne from inside of us. I’ll explain that a little bit more when I explain the process. But to your question of, “How do you know that that’s it?” Essentially, it feels right, and so you come up with this why statement, and even though the words might not be perfect at first because we’re kind of dealing with sort of imperfect medium of language to describe a feeling that we have or a belief or a driving force in our lives, and language is a tough thing to use to describe that feeling, but essentially when you look at that why statement it should feel like, “Yeah, that’s me.”

And what we find is a lot of times when we help individuals specifically find their own why, it’s not like it’s a huge revelation where they’ve got fireworks going off and it’s this whole like, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe it. I never even thought that this was it.” It’s more of a, “Oh, yeah, like that’s me.” That’s now just put into words, right? And it shouldn’t be a huge surprise for an organization or for an individual because a why is not something aspirational, it’s not something that we hope to become someday. It’s borne from who we are.

And so, when we help individuals or organizations discover their why it’s really a discovery process of looking to their past and pinpointing specific experiences, stories, events that have been particularly significant, that have really stuck out in their minds for all the right reasons, right? “This is a time where we’ve been proud to work for this organization,” or, “This is an experience that I had that really helped me, that made me feel like I was doing something meaningful and it really filled me up. It was really fulfilling for me.”

And so, again, in both cases, organizationally or individually, it’s through storytelling of the specific times when we have felt at our best, when we felt like we’ve been doing the things that we’re meant to do or that we’ve been acting in ways that really represent who we are at our natural best. And then we look for the patterns, or the themes, the things that keep coming up over and over and over again in each of those stories, and that sort of begins to put together what we call the golden thread, the thing, the commonality the thing that ties all of those stories together.

And, essentially, what we’re looking for is in each of these stories, “What is the overall contribution? What is it that we give? What is the piece of ourselves or the piece of our organization that we contribute to the world? And as a result of that contribution, what’s the impact? What happens when we show up and we make that contribution?”

And so, you’ll notice, just comparing back to my own why statement, to propel people forward is my contribution, that’s what I can show up and have control over so that people can make their mark on the world. That’s the impact. So, when I show up and I make that contribution of propelling people forward, of helping them with the knowledge that I have, or the experience that I’ve gained, or I can help coach them through something so they can be a little better than they were yesterday, the impact of that is that they can then go on with that knowledge or that experience or that encouragement or inspiration, from me hopefully, and make their mark on the world. That’s the impact of the why.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’s cool. And so, I guess I’m curious then, in terms of if it’s down there, it’s just a matter of sort of discovering it as opposed to inventing it. I know it’s a turn of phrase you use which I think is a nice distinction there. So, if it’s down there and you’re discovering it, kind of once you have it articulated, what changes or transforms for people or organizations? Just like, “Oh, yeah, that’s it. Now we are consciously aware that that is the articulation.” Sort of how is life or organizations different afterwards?

David Mead
Sure. So, I think a big part of a why discovery is, obviously first, articulating it and figuring out what it is, and that is just the first step. A couple of follow-on things to that that can really help you to bring that why to life or to sort of make it actionable within the organization or on an individual basis as well is to articulate your hows. And during the process of the why discovery there’s a lot of output, there’s a lot of themes and patterns and words and phrases and things that are really meaningful and important that pop out.

And a couple of those ideas, the ones that are sort of the overarching, you know, seem to be the biggest things, the ones that we love the most or the things that really resonate with us the most, that seem to sort of encapsulate everything else are what ends up in the why statement. The rest of those themes don’t go away. Those become really candidates for our hows which are more the sort of day-to-day behaviors and actions and guiding principles that direct our behavior every day, that when we live in those ways, when we operate in those ways, either individually or as an organization, that’s what allows us to bring that why, that contribution of impact to life.

And so, I think for a person or an organization who is really interested in applying this and making it actionable, it’s really important to articulate those hows as well. And so, every decision that you make, every strategy that you plan, every partner that you partner with, every person that you hire, every job that you look at taking is going to, then, flow through the filter of your why and your hows, “If I move forward with this opportunity, is it going to allow me to live my why? Am I going to be able to behave according to my guiding principles?”

I’ll give you a sort of an example. Like if one of my hows were to “do it together,” I need to have a team around me, and a company calls me up, and they say, “David, we’d love to have you put together a training curriculum throughout the next 12 months, a series of four workshops where you’re going to put all of our middle managers through this leadership training. We’re going to lock you up in a room for six weeks, and at the end of it, I want you to come out with a perfectly-articulated plan of how this is going to happen.”

I know right then, because one of my hows – I’m postulating, this is not one of my hows but this is just an example – one of my hows is “do it together” which means I need to have a team around me. I can’t work well alone. I know that that opportunity is going to turn out badly for me. And so, I can use that as a filter that I know that if this seems like a great opportunity and this organization seems like one that we share common values and beliefs, they’re going in the right direction, I believe in what they’re doing.

I might just simply say, “You know what, I work much better when I have a team of people to bounce my ideas off of or gain some other insight from. Are there a couple of other people that I could have access to that could help me understand the inner workings of the organization and who these middle managers are and what they need and all this kind of other stuff?” If I can have those people around me and I can do it together then we’re going to end up with a much better result at the end than if I have to do it on my own.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. I’m with you there and so that’s great, having gone through that process, you’ve zeroed in on it. And so, I’m thinking as you engaged in these questions, you’re zeroing in on experiences that you’re proud of and that are meaningful to you as opposed to – is this fair to say – just experiences that you thought were just a ton of fun, like, “That was really cool.” You’re saying, like, “What kind of like emotion feeling are we targeting where we look at these experiences?” When you say meaningful, does that also like that’s really fun? Or kind of what’s in scope and out of scope for why leading experience reflecting?

David Mead
That’s a great question. And I would say no story is a wrong story necessarily but I like the sort of the fine point that you put on this which is we’re looking for events and stories and experience that have some sort of lasting significance. And so, it’s not like, “Oh, my gosh, I rode the biggest rollercoaster in the world, and it was a total rush. That was so much fun.” Like that’s great but it didn’t really mean anything.

So, we’re looking for things, experiences where you have learned something that was really valuable too in your life, and these don’t have to be huge monumental things like you won first prize in whatever. They can be the tiniest little thing, like you stopped by the side of the road and helped an older guy change a flat tire and you had a bonding moment with that person.

Like it can be seemingly really insignificant things, but as long as you took something away from it, and you learned something, or it impacted you in some way, helped you see the world in a different way, or sort of helped you consider your role in life in a little different way, something that just sort of you’ve kept with you and taken something from or learned something from. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. I’m with you. And I think, maybe, to make it come to life all the more, I’d love it if you could spend, oh, three, four, five minutes of you just doing what you do in terms of if we are kind of dialogue partners and you’re helping me get to my why, what would you ask me? And maybe we’ll just do that live real time. I’ll give you some responses and you’ll do some follow-ups and we’ll kind of get a flavor for how this unfolds.

David Mead
Sure. So, I mean, in three, four, five minutes we’re not going to get to your why but I’ll give you an essence of kind of what the process looks like. So, I would just ask you to start out by telling me an experience in your life that has been significant or meaningful to you.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Sure thing. I’ll say coordinating the speed dating event at church just because I got an email about that this morning. It reminded me, I’m like, “Oh, yeah, that was pretty awesome.”

David Mead
Cool. All right. Tell me more about that.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, it was really cool. We had a 152 people each year that goes down and I’ve met some cool folks myself in terms of friends and girlfriends at the event myself, and there’d been a number of people who have gotten married as a result of having met each other there, and it was just really cool to just see an event come together and go live as well as just like the beautiful clockwork of blow the whistle and everyone rotates in just like an elegant system.

David Mead
Interesting imagery of a beautiful clockwork, and I’m curious. It seems like that’s part of the story that you really love. Talk more about that. What’s so amazing or so beautiful about that for you?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, you just put so much time and effort into the thing and then it’s alive, you know. And then it’s a little bit chaotic, like, “What’s going on? Where am I going? Is this the right table? Where actually am I going?” And then it’s just a cool, efficiency in terms of, “Okay, three minutes.” The whistle blows and everyone moves in the direction, coordination, and it’s like in that moment, it’s like, “All right. You know, 76 pairs of people are getting acquainted all at once, and then it happens repeatedly again and then again.” And it’s just really cool to watch as it unfolds.

David Mead
Is this the first, this one that you’re talking about, is this the first event like this that you’ve put on?

Pete Mockaitis
No, I’ve put on a number of like leadership conferences and retreats, and so there’d been several events.

David Mead
Okay. So, I’m interested because you could’ve told me about anyone of those but you chose this particular speed dating event. Tell me what it is about this particular event that really sticks out in your mind if you had to pick one thing.

Pete Mockaitis
I think it’s that there’s just so many people I care about in one place at one time whether they’re volunteers or buddies looking for romance. It’s like, “Hey, I know you people, and good luck. It’s fun creating this with you.”

David Mead
You used the word create. What do you feel like you’re creating?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I would say it’s an experience, it’s some moments that are just a ton of fun in terms of whether folks find their spouse or not, it’s like that was great. I got plugged into meeting a lot of really great people that I’ll likely remain in touch with. And we’re just having just kind of like a magical few hours in terms of people and food and beverage and enjoyment.

David Mead
And, again, curious on that, the word magical. If you had to describe, what is magical about that?

Pete Mockaitis
It’s exhilarating and fun in a way that it’s stimulating on numerous human dimensions at once, you know, I guess emotionally, intellectually, relationally, food and beverage in the belly. It’s enjoyable on multiple sides of your human experience all at the same time.

David Mead
Sure. And if you had to sort of zero in on, what’s the part that you feel like you played? What was the thing that you gave of yourself? What did you contribute in that?

Pete Mockaitis
I thought I brought like a coordinating mastermind type element. It’s like, “These are how all the pieces of the system and processes are going to work from the signup to the table placement, to the software that then does the matching and the email notifications. It was fun to kind of tie all of these things together in a cool combination that worked.

David Mead
And because of this contribution that you made, this coordinating, this arranging, this orchestrating that you took care of, what was the result of that? What do you think you made possible for people?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think that, well, for some people it is their spouse, you know, it’s the person they’re married to right now, and their whole family life, so that’s just so exciting. Like, “There you are.” For others it was kind of introduction to a cool community, it’s like, “I like these guys. These will be my friends now.” And so, kind of the main place they find fellowship, camaraderie, good times, and then just maybe even on a small scale, just folks and all the feedback forms, saying, “This was a fantastic night. Thank you.”

David Mead
Yeah, and you said that you just received an email – was it this morning – about this event?

Pete Mockaitis
That’s right. They said, “Oh, hey, Pete. You know we’re putting this together. We need…” So, I’m not as directly involved now, “We need all of your quick tips and tricks and documents. Hook it up.”

David Mead
Yeah. And, I mean, do you see the result of these people who some of them have gotten married, others maybe not, but you said that you keep in touch with all of these people, or a lot of these people. Do you any or are there any specific people that stick out from this one event that the impact of what happened for them, whether marriage or something else, really just inspires you or really fulfills you, and you thought, “Man, if for nothing else, that was worth it”?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, I’m thinking about Megan, my friend, who did meet her spouse there, and I think I just remember how we were talking and it seemed like, for no good reason, she’s a great gal. It seems like she’s having some trouble meeting a good dude, and at the same time the event sort of fills out so quickly for women more so than men. That’s a whole another conversation.

And so, it was cool that it was through a volunteer capacity where one was bartending, the other was participating that they got to make a connection there. So, I just thought that was pretty cool, that here’s someone I know and then there’s value kind of flowing not just if you’re a participant but also as a volunteer. It’s like you’re a part of what it can be.

David Mead
That’s great. So, just pausing for a minute, I think at this point I’ve taken down just a bunch of notes on a little sticky pad, but if we were continuing this process, we would go on to another story and I would just say, “Hey, Pete, go ahead and tell me another time in your life when you felt fulfilled or when you’ve done something that was really significant or meaningful for you.”

And what I would watch for is any of the same type of themes or words or ideas or phrases that would’ve come up in these first stories. So, if you’re curious, I’m happy to share some of the things that I jotted down.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure. Thanks.

David Mead
So, I wrote a thing. You know, in the process when we talk about how to take somebody through it, when you hear these stories there are two components of the story. There’s sort of the logistic of it, like what happened, when it was, how many people were there, all that kind of stuff. And then we separate those from the feelings, the emotions, the meaning behind the story, and so keeping those sort of separated out, helps us as we’re filtering through three, four, five, six different stories that somebody might tell. We can go back and we have one section that’s just for the meanings and the emotions and so we don’t have to filter through and look through all the logistical stuff at the same time.

So, I separated those things out a little bit. I’ll focus more on the meaning and the significance part. But some of the things that I jotted down were creating a moment, and I love that, which is what you said. This idea of bringing people together, of connection, relationship, coordinating, arranging, orchestrating, giving people a sense of belonging, fellowship. And so, again, just a couple of those things that I would want to watch for as the next few stories unfold, because the idea is that your why is who you are at your best no matter where you are.

And so, you should be able to live your why at church, at work, at home, with your friends, it’s all the same. And so, this is why we want stories and experiences from every different part of your life because all those things tie together, because it doesn’t matter where you are because we are who we are wherever we are.

Pete Mockaitis
Right on. Well, thank you. Well, yeah, that’s fun. Cool. And so, then, so you got those course on StartWithWhy.com.

David Mead
Yup, that’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, how’s that go down?

David Mead
So if you go to StartWithWhy.com there’s an online course which is in the very final stages of being revamped. And so, basically, Peter and I, who co-authored Find Your Why with Simon, basically guide you through with videos and online exercises to take you through this process of discovering your personal why.

So, the online course is right now mainly designed for individuals, also entrepreneurs, solopreneurs as well, not so much yet designed for businesses. That’s where Find Your Why the book comes in. And we have at least half of that book dedicated to teams and organizations to discover their why.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so, then, it sounds like you’re going to want to have a partner engaged in the why discovery course in order to really make it pop.

David Mead
Absolutely. We’ve had a lot of people in the past try to do it themselves, and they think, “Ah, I got this. I can figure it out.” But it’s sort of like, I mean, this is why we have to go to therapy, right? We cannot analyze ourselves. And so, it’s really, really difficult, I would say impossible, for an individual to identify their own themes and patterns, and it’s very important to have that third party sort of outside perspective.

And one of the kind of fun things that I do when I do an individual discovery with somebody is, before I sort of repeat back to them after they’re done telling me all their stories, before I read back, repeat back to them any of the themes or the patterns that I’ve noticed, I ask them, especially if there are some that are really, really strong, I say, “Do you see any of the patterns that keep coming up over and over in these stories?” and, usually, they say, “No, not really. They all seem pretty disparate and separate to me.”

And then I lay out what their themes are, and I point back to each story that those came from, and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, you’re right. Like I never would’ve seen them myself.” And so, having a partner, or in an organization’s case, having a facilitator, preferably from the outside if you can do it, who does not have that – the biases and the sort of preconceived notions and the things that make us subjective versus objective – is really, really important.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’s good. Well, so then, thanks for making that all the more real now. And so, I want to get your take, then, so the show is for professionals and we got folks in different workplaces. So, how does one individual’s why kind of interplay or map to the workplace or the team or the company in terms of like how do those jive together? Maybe sometimes they don’t. Like how do we think about those interplaying?

David Mead
Yeah, so the idea is that our individual why will align with and contribute to the why of the organization that we work for. Now, most organizations don’t have a clearly-articulated why and so that becomes a little tough. However, a lot of us work in places that we love our jobs, we love to go to work, it’s a great culture, it feels great, we love the people that we work with, we enjoy our jobs, and so the culture and the feeling is there, even though the words aren’t necessarily clearly articulated and put on the wall in the form of a why.

So as long as we’re in an environment where we feel comfortable, where we feel like we’re doing meaningful work, our own individual why can still play into that because if you think about it, really, anybody’s why is about the contribution and the impact that we make on the lives of people. And so, we have the opportunity to show up and be that person for our colleagues, for our team members, for our customers, for our partners, for our vendors, and so there’s nothing really keeping us from living our own personal why even if the organization doesn’t have a clearly-articulated one.

Where the beauty is, and where really the inspiration and fulfillment comes in, is when our organizations do have a clearly-articulated why, and we can see how our own why really feeds in and contributes directly to that bigger picture of the organization, and that just gives us that extra drive to get to work and to help this organization achieve this great vision.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. I like that. Well, now I’m kind of going back and forth in terms of they all have the common ingredients of are all contributions so that an impact is created. So, then, I guess I’m wondering, just how diverse or varied can why statements be? Could you maybe give us, I don’t know, three more quick individual examples so I could see, “Oh, I see how they’re the same and yet different”?

David Mead
Sure. So, let me see if I can pull out a couple. Are you talking about individual or organization examples?

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s go individual, yeah.

David Mead
Okay. So, I’ll give you a couple, the why statements of a couple of people on our team. One is to support and encourage others so that they can revel in who they are, and that one is really around just helping people find the beauty in themselves and reveling in that, so that’s one. Another one is to help people connect in meaningful ways so that we could live in a more fulfilled world.

And so, you’ll notice, I mean, the pattern, the commonality among everybody’s why is that it is, in some way, in service to somebody else. It’s our way of helping other people. And, you know, you talk to so many people and they say, “Oh, I feel so good when I help other people. My why is to help others.” You’re right, it is, but the power of going through an exercise like this is that we can get into a more detailed articulation of what your version of help means, right?

So, when I help somebody, I might do it in a little different way than you do it. Our whys will be slightly different even though, ultimately, they’re both about helping other people but it’s just the way that we articulate them that can make them really authentic and feel genuine to us.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Thank you. Well, David, tell me, is there anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

David Mead
Again, if anybody is interested in learning more about this StartWithWhy.com is a great place to go. We’ve got links to Simon’s TED Talk if you haven’t seen it, a lot of other free resources, and you can Google Simon Sinek, you’ll find endless pages of videos and talks and that kind of stuff which is all great.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, cool. Thank you. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

David Mead
Yes, I have a few but one that pops to mind, and I actually have it on my desk, and it feels a little bit of a cop-out, but it’s a Simon quote, but it ties directly to what we’ve been talking about here, which is, “If you’re a different person at work than you are at home, then in one of those two places you’re lying.” The idea behind that is we should be who we are at our natural best everywhere that we are, and that includes being who we are at work and who we are at home, and we should not be two different people in both of those places.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. Thank you. And how about a favorite book?

David Mead
I love, love, love, and again, call it a cop-out if you want, but Leaders Eat Last, Simon’s second book, is so incredibly good. Like I don’t know what not to underline. So, from a leadership book perspective, I think that is one of the most influential and impactful books that I have ever read.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. And how about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

David Mead
Can I give you a habit?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, let’s take it.

David Mead
Yeah, so a habit that I have is every time right before I get on stage to do a talk or a workshop or something, I remind myself that I’m there to give. And so, I say to myself out loud, “Show up to give.” And it puts me in a mindset of, essentially, I’m getting out on that stage, I’m putting my arms around all those people and I’m giving them the knowledge or the experience or the things that I’ve learned, and I’m not there to get paid – of course, I do get paid – but that’s not what’s going on in my mind.

I’m not thinking about, “Well, jeez, I hope they like it so that they hire me again or they can refer me to somebody else,” or, “Who am I going to meet here that can be influential in my career?” I don’t think about any of that stuff. I just put myself in the mindset of show up to give, and that is a habit that has served me very well, and just keeps my head in the right place.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thanks. And do you have a final challenge or call to action you’d issue to folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

David Mead
I think, again, it ties to what we’ve been talking about here, about whether you go through the online course or the book or something completely different or nothing at all, at least think to yourself and consider, “Why do you actually get out of bed every day?” And if you really want to be awesome at your job there’s got to be passion, there’s got to be drive, there’s got to be love there.

Human beings are not inspired to make a huge paycheck or to hit a number or a metric, those are all motivating things. But, like we said before, it’s like that experience of taking a rollercoaster, it’s like, “Yeah, it was fun. That was awesome,” and then it wears off. Knowing your why and living based on that and finding an organization where we can bring that to life brings lasting fulfillment, and that’s something that we all deserve to have.

It shouldn’t be like, we shouldn’t feel lucky that we love our jobs. It’s something that should be available to everybody. And so, it simply just starts with considering, “Why do we actually do this?” And if we don’t feel like what we’re doing is a good fit, what changes do we need to make? Where might we be able to go that does feel a little bit better where we can bring our best selves to work every day?

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, David, this has been a real treat. Thanks so much for sharing and questioning and getting some wheels turning both for myself and for everyone who’s listening here. So, I wish you tons of luck and keep on rocking.

David Mead
Thanks, Pete. You, too.

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