What do you do for a living? A common question that can stimulate or kill a conversation. It’s a go-to question in situations where we meet new people; BBQ’s, dance recitals, you name it. Despite this cultural norm, many are teaching that the key is not what you do but why you do what you do. Your purpose. Simon Sinek is well-known for the Golden Circle video and the “Story” movement in marketing and personal branding is emphasizing the impact of sharing your purpose instead of the functional facts of what you do.
This holds true when it comes to both organizational identity and execution.
Organizations, depending on their scale and age, even executive teams can become disconnected from their purpose. Strategic planning can become routine, resulting in operational plans rather than transformational strategies. When this becomes the situation, the status quo sets-in, innovation fades away and a company’s potential impact begins to decline.
What can undo this affliction? Here are the 2 essential characteristics required to break free from the status quo.
1. Unshakeable Belief
We are constantly bombarded by expectations, bureaucracy, lack of support, negative perceptions and internal backbiting. This all creates weight; weight we carry from one situation to another. It also creates fog. This fog prevents us from seeing the possible future- perhaps the future that once drove our belief in what we do. It informed our why but now it’s hard to see or articulate.
Another culprit is fear. Fear that we can’t really make a difference, fear that there is too much in the way, fear that we have to remain stuck in the daily grind. This keeps us locked into the status quo and our organizations need us to break free!
What we need is unshakeable belief to facilitate the power to move forward. It’s like we have been driving our car until the fuel runs out then opened the door and started pushing the vehicle with our left foot. This is no way to keep moving. Belief is the fuel.
When we started our careers, took the new role, started our business, whatever the situation- we did it with passion and indisputable belief. That needs to be recaptured! Using the exercise of your “Why” can be a great start. Differentiate between your Why, How and What.
2. A Clear Direction
Organizations and departments create strategic and operating plans all the time, but how often are those plans clear, inspirational or executed on? Yes, even the process of strategic planning which, when done well, should challenge everyone involved to stretch their thinking further, to audit their actions and to courageously define what to say no to, can become routine. Clarity of the importance, the why, is the differentiating factor that breathes life into a plan. Choosing goal categories for the sake of it, or not refining a plan down to the essentials is just an exercise for the sake of it and offers no value to the organization. On the other hand, crafting a radically clear Strategic Plan inspires the entire organization through strong connection to the purpose of the company. A clear plan will have relevant actions that amplify the importance of each person’s role within the company.
Added to unshakeable belief, a clear strategy sets the course for a team who knows where they are going and how they are getting there.