By Courtney Wakes
Whenever I speak to potential clients – I always ask them Why? Why have they come to us? Why did they want the meeting? Why do they do what they do? Understanding other people’s why is crucial in my job, this question helps to understand others and provide them the best service.
If anyone knows me, they will know I am inquisitive and I need to know Why to function. For example, my driving instructor said no one asked more questions than I do! It was not until she lifted the bonnet to the car (in the rain – Whoops) that I knew how a car worked that I finally managed to learn to not stall the car.
However – I had never questioned my own why until the pandemic hit. I do not need to tell you that the pandemic hit the hospitality industry hard. But trying to sell in the hospitality industry felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall repeatedly. I doubted myself, my ability, my worth and my contribution to my company. I was lost – I started to question what makes me get up in the morning.
I approached my director, and he recommended that I read a book that resonated with him just months before and then we would put some time aside to discuss it. I am not really sure he understands how big of an impact this book and discussing it together had on me. Not just at a work level but personal level too.
This book was Simon Sinek – Start with Why.
I downloaded it as an audio book and off I went listening to it on my walks and taking advantage of the sunshine we were blessed with last year.
He talked about how inspirational leaders think, act, and communicate. He says, “there are leaders and there are those who lead.” At first I remember thinking those are the same thing. But he goes on to explain how “those who lead, inspire us. We follow them for ourselves. It’s those who start with why.”
I kept stopping on my walk, excitingly writing thinks down that resonated with me – getting excited to share my thoughts on this with my director and anyone else who would listen.
So how does it work?
Simon Sink demonstrates his ideas through a use of a simple circle – ‘The Golden Circle’.
It is the idea that most people start with the outside circle – they lean far too much on what they do rather than Why they do it but for people who understand their why and purpose and start on the inside out have a greater motivation to keep going.
Throughout the book he uses different companies and well-known leaders as examples to explain his concept. For example, he used the company TEVO they invented the concept to pause to live TV. Their marketing campaign told us what the product did but never why we needed it. Fast forward a few years companies Like Apple and Apple TV come along and use this technology – they market a similar product and tell us why we needed it – When we pause Live TV we are in control of the situation, we can make live TV work around us. Now there may only be subtle differences between the two but with Apple staying with Why – made us feel a certain way by simply telling us why – and It is no coincidence more people by Apple Products than TEVO.
Listening to this audio book made me understand Why I was so invested in my company now because Arc and the directors have a clear Why, it was a powerful one that people were invested in, it determined the culture, the communication, and the morale of my colleagues. We knew our direction and we were getting there as a team. This was unlike my old company we were constantly told how and what – but never Why.
So after listening to this book I was naturally intrigued to find my why. Simon Sinek created a second book ‘Find your Why’ a practical guide for you and a close friend to work together as an act of self-discovery. It creates a safe environment to talk and give you tips to talk about how past experiences effects your perceptions, and it allowed conversation to flow, it brought back memories and allowed me to realise the impact these moments of life had – all of which have led to this exact point of finding my why.
One for example – I was 7 and our dance teacher taught us a dance and then changed it at the end of the lesson to fit the music better. The week after we had a substitute teacher, she asked us for the final 8 counts where I told her the modified version and I got shot down by this girl she shouted at me in front of the whole class and told me I was stupid. No one dared to back me up (despite being told I was correct several weeks later) as she was known to be a bully. I would often think about this event and similar events, they may sound small, but it makes me think about how I would confirm in meetings when I knew I was right in fear of being called out and humiliated. On the other hand, I would some of my proudest moments, mainly as a manager where I would see my employees succeed and me knowing I was a part of that positive experience.
All these experience brough me to find my Why statement which was ‘ To empower others to realise their potential!’ It all made sense and I was proud of it. I discussed my why with everyone I met and was the epiphany I needed. This process allowed me to understand why I was so self-cr
itical and so accommodating in the past and it allowed me to realise that I had my own unique superpower – being and I had the ability to use this experience to empower other. Being more open and more aware of my demons allowed me to overcome them, which I think I have improved my work life and personal life. Now I am not saying it has made me perfect, far from it, but it now allows me to be conscious of my own thoughts, reflect, and push myself further.
Remembering who you are.
Now I am not telling you this so I can brag about me finally being comfortable with myself, but I am here to tell you that every single one of us is here for a purpose and why we choose our jobs, social circle and our communication style is for that purpose. And when you can take the time to reflect and understand your why you can start living up to it and I believe that now this is more important than ever and is the key to living a fulfilled life with no regrets.
I always have my wobbles of self-doubt; I still find myself in situations similar to the one-off being a little girl in the dance school but knowing my triggers has allowed me to overcome them and it is nice to remind myself that all the difference experience has lead me to be the person I am today. I’ve learnt that there are other ways to reading Simon Sinek to find you why and these for me include journaling, taking time to reflect and meditating, some questions I commonly are myself I ask are
-What motivates me
-What am I passionate about
-What gets me out of bed
-What would I do if I knew I could not fail?
-Why did that situation make me feel like that?
If you do think asking yourself these questions or want to find your why the answers may not make sense right now and you may leave yourself feeling a little bit vulnerable, but I learnt in that moment that is where the magic happened.
And with that I hope you understand why I chose to write this blog, which I choose to be part of the female hospitality society and why I encourage you to find your Why!