Figuring out why
Kirjoittanut: Alina Suni - tiimistä Apaja.
Start with Why
” There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us.” – Simon Sinek
I have known since primary school that I want to become a leader regardless what the occupation should be. I’ve always enjoyed group work and most of the time I’ve taken the role of leading. Actually, no matter whether it has been an outdoor game or an actual school-related task, I have wanted to take the lead. Until the beginning of my nursing studies I didn’t sacrifice much of thought on why I wanted to have that exact role. In healthcare the reason is clear: I want to inspire and lead people to smarter solutions in such a scale, that the clients will benefit the most of it. As I started Proakatemia the very first thing we were made to reflect on was why. So of course, I had plenty of thinking to do. Why do I want to inspire people? Why do I want to affect something on a larger scale? Why is the wellbeing of my clients so important?
Simon Sinek says that some individuals are ”natural-born leaders”. These individuals have the ability to inspire others. But can anyone perfect themselves to this? Was Martin Luther King Jr. born with the gift of speech or did he develop the skills on the run? He had a vision he knew he couldn’t reach alone. He knew actions were just as important as the content of his words. He understood that his vision had to be made reachable and desirable for the average citizens. He had a dream and he shared it with others. He wanted a change not for the good of the minority but for good of everyone. He understood his why.
This all sounds quite simple. Just think why you want what you want and that’s about it. Still, Martin Luther King couldn’t have been the only one who wanted to advance the civil right so badly. But why did he stand out from the crowd so distinctly? He didn’t have a great financial back up to allure supporters. He didn’t have specific marketing designs. Invitations were not sent to masses to gain support. What he did was speak kindly and equally. When listening to him, people understood he pointed out a clear grievance. He motivated people to think better, to think more like a human. He didn’t pity himself nor incriminate others. Simply said, he was a very righteous individual with a clear vision that would bind all nations together and thus lead humanity one step forward.
Great leaders motivate people to work not because they have to, but because they want to. Through a shared vision people are given the sense of purpose or belonging. Everyone has a meaningful role no matter what the position at the organization is. These leaders find to have the most loyal employees and customers. Isn’t this what every leader of an enterprise, a union or a society wants to aim at? Then why is it so hard to point out more of these companies with great leaders even on the presence of 18 people with very different background in work? My personal experience is that about 1 out of 5 companies where someone has worked is said to have had a good leader. The others have had a manager. Why? I blame money for one.
It is clear that without incoming money a business won’t work. It should be one of the main priorities when starting out as an entrepreneur that the work will pay back what a person gives to it. And this is where it often goes wrong. Money becomes the individuals why. But no further mindset is given to it. Or it is simply seen as ”freedom”. But what is the freedom? Of not working? To me that only narrates how meaningless the work must be to a person if it is not desired to improve and keep on going when a certain point of income is reached. Depending of course will it benefit anyone at that point anymore.
I’m quite shocked at times when discussing with other team entrepreneurs about their why. People are willing to ship junk from China and sell it onwards only to make money. In many projects there is no clear understanding why this project is made. It can’t be only because it ”sounds cool” or ”I’ve always wanted my own line of whatever”. Or can it? What problem does it solve? Who does it benefit (the company or the client)? Too often, I for one, feel not inspired or motivated but rather annoyed and frustrated. We have all the tools and information how to make a business successful in every possible angle and we keep shooting our own legs because money is all we think. Maybe my mindset is on a pink world filled with butterflies and unicorns, but I don’t want to start the vision through money. I want that the work matters to those who perform it and the clients who should benefit the most from it. I believe my why is based on my values. I hope my work is so meaningful that it does actual good to its target group and through that to its performers. I want to measure the income through the significance of my work. The bigger value, the bigger income.
People make decisions and take action based on their values, knowledge and beliefs. These are taught from one’s birth and molded throughout one’s live based on experiences of the environment. Too often there is no actual knowledge but simply a belief of a matter. At other times there is a gut of what should be done. Sometimes trusting your gut may lead to success. It is still not encouraged to build action without evidence. The struggle in companies is to be open to others outlook. And on the other hand, be willing to change one’s own perspective. I have a hard time shaping my own path of actions based on others knowledge and opinions. Sometimes I feel, I might be too ”kind” for this field. Then again, is it a bad thing? I don’t lack of ambition or perseverance. My priority is to do good rather than make money.
I am ready to make compromises with my personal salary to first gain clear data that my work is worthy of that payment. I’m sure this mindset could also be harnessed more instructive through better leadership within our team. Yet, I still don’t understand why we should start paying everyone salary and donating a mere fraction of the income to the actual firm as we are still fumbling the line of business. Do we want to lead ourselves as an individual to a wealthier tomorrow or lead and inspire each other to a more successful business?
Should I be more inspired of making money or should I inspire others to think more of doing good? Do they exclude each other? Can there be value to a company if it doesn’t make much money?
Apparently, I still have a lot of thinking to do when it comes to why.