The Most Difficult Leadership Question. Why?

I just finished listening to a wonderful audio book by Todd G. Gongwer titled, “Lead…for God’s Sake.”

It was recommended by a friend I work with.  Little did I know I’d spend the better part of the weekend listening to the parable and consuming all the book had to offer.

The parable itself was extremely moving, but as I often do I immediately started relating it to other topics I recently consumed.  Before we continue, you must watch the content below.  It’s a TED talk by Simon Sinek.  The consistencies of the two pieces of content are palpable and instantly triggered me to transcribe this post.

Ask yourself this.  Why are some coaches more successful than others?  The rules of the game don’t change when a select coach is on the sideline.  Yet some coaches amass hundreds of wins, and others struggle to get buy-in and likely lose.  Losing leads to finding a new profession.  In the parable, the main character was a head basketball coach struggling to accomplish his goals.  “His” selfish goals.

Simon says (no pun intended), “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.”  He repeats more passionately, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it!”

In the book, “Lead…for God’s Sake”, a high school student challenges the historically successful coach with a powerful and life-changing question.  She asked politely, “Coach, WHY do you do what you do?”  Surprisingly, the wise old coach couldn’t answer.  He didn’t know the WHY, he only knew the what.  The “what” equalled winning games in his life.  It’s what he did.  Not WHY.  However, his current situation involved losing more games than winning.

I go further.  Listen to Simon’s story about the Wright Brothers and their competitor who was seeking only riches and fame (what).  The Wright Brothers had an unwavering belief and limited resources.  But they understood and embraced their WHY.  Who will forever be remembered for first taking flight?

The last thought I’ll leave you with is Mr. Sinek’s final thought.  “There are leaders and there are those who LEAD,”  says Simon.  He goes on to say, “Those who LEAD inspire us!”  The book and this TED talk give zero leadership value to position and power.  Inspiration doesn’t come with a promotion and it will never follow a title.  It lives within the WHY.

Pick up a copy of “Lead…for God’s Sake” and see how high school janitor Joe Taylor (fictional character) truly leads others from a seemingly inconsequential role.

ACTION ITEM: If you can’t tell me or those close to you the WHY in your life, please pause and reflect.  Find your WHY and be prepared to unlock all the riches life has to offer.  These riches will be in the form of more happiness, experiences, and relationships.

 

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