Look around and you’ll notice most brands communicate from the outside in: they define themselves in terms of what they do.
Look closely at brands that inspire you and inspire your loyalty, and you will likely find that they communicate in quite the opposite way: from the inside out. They speak in terms of “why.” Truly inspiring companies invest much more of their time communicating their “why,” and much less on their “what” and “how.” The recently popular MAC vs PC ads are a great example of the difference in selling “why” we do what we do versus “what” we do.
A powerful “why” is the catalyst to action. A problem that many businesses face is having a “how” and “what,” but no clear “why.” The “how” is the action taken to produce something and the “what” is the product we offer, the result of our action. Without a clear sense of “why” the “how” and “what” are often unclear and uninspiring.
On a personal level, this would be like saying you plan to write a best-selling book (the “how”) in order to gain fame and fortune (the “what”) but you have no idea what to write about or what you want to say—a total absence of “why.” A clear and compelling “why” is an essential ingredient to successful action.
Think about this in terms of leading and coaching others. Sharing “what I need you to do” and “how I would like you to do it” and “if this happens, be prepared to …” may be enough to equip others to act. But, to inspire others to act, you have to facilitate a conversation around the “Why.”
We follow leaders who start with “Why.”