It was the cleaner’s first day on the job at Disneyland. But his frazzled boss didn’t have time to brief him or give him a uniform – or even a mop! He only had time to tell him the mantra at Disneyland: “Make People Happy.”
So the uniform-less and mop-less cleaner headed out to start work. He soon came across a crying boy and upset mother. The boy had spilled his milkshake and it had gone everywhere. He had no cleaning tools to do his job, but with “Make People Happy” ringing in his hears, he went over and tipped the rest of the milkshake on his head. The boy started laughing, the mother relaxed, and the cleaner had done his job without a cleaning product in sight.
This story, from Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why, had a huge effect on me. It hit home the power of a succinct ‘why’ – articulating why your business exists, what drives you, and why anyone (your team included) should care.
What’s your why?
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Why does your business exist? What drives your team to go that extra mile? And why should potential customers choose your business over a competitor – let alone care about the community you’re trying to build? The answers are all in your Why.
As business owners, we can get so caught up in the 'doing' of our business that we lose sight of the point of it all - building an amazing team that satisfies our customers' needs. We need to keep checking in to ensure we remain focused on what drives our business, what benefits we give to customers, and – most importantly – why we do what we do.
You need to find that underpinning reason behind why you do what you do – and, critically, you then need to convey it to your customers. But I argue its even more important to get your people to embrace it and live it.
As our cleaner example showed, your why is like a moral compass for your team members: its a reminder of how they should act in any circumstance. It enables you to reinforce the behaviours and attitudes you want them to adopt if your business is to succeed.
It’s not what you do but why you do it that makes you different. To be honest, I don’t really like accounting—it bores the pants off me—but I love helping people. I do what I do because I’m passionate about changing people’s lives for the better, and giving them lifestyle options through financial freedom.
In the end, we were able to articulate why we went into business, and the ethos that drives us to this day, into The Practice's WHY: Liberating People’s Lifestyles.
Understanding your why is immensely powerful, and will influence every aspect of your business: how you hire and train team members; how you greet customers; how team members behave; and your yearly strategic planning activities, to name a few.
Articulating ours was one of the best business decisions we ever made.
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