Yesterday, I wrapped up two-day strategic planning program with a client who owns a software development firm. We spent the time mapping out how he will double annual revenues this year. It was a lot of fun and very fulfilling helping him envision a leaner and more focused organization. There is no question that if he chooses, my client will triple or quadruple the size of this company over the next few years.
I learned a ton during this session, but I want to highlight one insight here, about how I initiated the session. This was by helping my client connect with the "Why" behind his organization. Why does this company exist? What is it about?
Over the past few weeks, I have found myself sharing this terrific TED talk by Simon Sinek, based on his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, with several clients and colleagues. I love the talk because it does such a good job capturing the power of idealism to motivate and inspire change.
When I asked my CEO client about the Why behind his business, he immediately took me back to the early days of his company, when he founded it with the vision of helping entrepreneurs prosper through creative self-expression and embracing of their highest ideals.
Tapping into that early vision transformed our strategic planning work together. Now, growing his firm is no longer just about increasing revenues and his personal net worth. It’s about improving the lives and businesses of other entrepreneurs. It’s about bringing more creativity into the business and non-profit arenas. It’s about helping more people express their own highest visions. It is about improving the better world.
It's easy to shrug off the power of this kind of idealism, but the truth is we are all inspired and energized by noble ideals. Service, love, beauty, courage – these the most powerful forces on the planet. And they are intrinsic to our nature. We are hard wired to love, care and serve.
Embracing this natural idealism in ourselves and bringing it to our business creates a special kind of alchemy. Our work becomes a calling and a vocation. Our organizations become causes and movements. And when investors, employees and customers recognize that -- and see that it is genuine -- they respond.