Is 'Start with the Why' Actually Good Advice? -- Blog Post

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Is ‘Start with the Why’ Actually Good Advice?

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In the world of business and leadership, we are often encouraged to explain the ‘why’ first, especially when it comes to making changes of any sort. The idea being that once people can understand the reason for a change, they are more likely to get on-board with it. Makes sense, right?

Sort of.

In my experience, most leaders are not truly clear about their intentions. Most of us fall prey to the treadmill that has become our life. We are going along, hitting the quarterly numbers, rarely pausing long enough to understand our own motivation. Couple this with the reality that most leaders are incredibly attached to outcomes, believing that they are the ones who need to make it happen, and the deepest awareness of our intention and motivation remains buried in the hustle.

Let’s look more closely at this idea of being attached to outcomes and believing that we must make them a reality. Going to any length necessary to achieve an outcome overrides the intention and motivation. In this state, we quickly lose sight of the “why” because too much effort and control is being employed and now the outcome matters more to us than the intention.

If you’ve ever experienced yourself acting or speaking in a way that doesn’t feel aligned with what you intended — which is likely somewhere between having more peace in your life and leading a great team of people — then return to your original motivation. It is likely that it has been overridden by an attachment to the outcome – one that may or may not happen.

We forget that just because we want something to happen doesn’t mean that we can force it into existence. Achieving an outcome is the combination of the causes and conditions being just right, which is something that we cannot possibly control.

So why should we even bother looking at our motivation and intentions?

The biggest reason is that living in alignment with our motivations allows us to get a good night’s sleep. It also removes suffering from our lives and subsequently from the lives of those around us. When we are clear and living in alignment with our most wholesome intentions, we naturally experience greater peace and calm. When we don’t, we don’t.

It’s as easy and as hard as that.

The Leadership Weekly

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Weekly wisdom from the DS Leadership Life team.

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