Today I’m going to be talking about what I call What is your Why?
Why do you do things that you do? Why do you do them the way you do?
It’s something we don’t often stop and ask ourselves. It’s so important to increase our productivity is to challenge the way things are done. And not just with other people, but with yourself as well.
I’m going to start this video with the quote Rollo Mat.
It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way
This encapsulates a lot of this idea of what is your why. We don’t often stop and think about why are we doing things. We just keep going. We get deeper and deeper and then we find out that there’s a simpler way. We never stop. We never think. We never try and find other ways.
This to me is the important thing about finding and understanding your why.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Is it the excitement of going to work? Or is it “oh well I’ve got to go and work I need to earn the money”
Both are valid. Both are fine. But you need to understand what your motivations are. They are so important in driving you forward.
What excites you?
What excites you about your work? What excites you about your personal life?
This is something really important. We need to find out what excites us. This lets us drive forward.
Here’s an exercise for you. Spend a minute or two thinking about your funeral. What do you want people to say about you?
- Do you want to be known as someone who turned up to work on time
- Someone who they gave everything to work
- Someone who delivered projects and they were on time and always on budget?
- Someone who delivered value to other people?
- Someone who is a valued friend, a valued family member?
- Someone who lived life to the fullest.
These are all important things. The first four were only looking at work. That’s all they were focusing life on.
The last three were talking about what you meant to other people.
The key to being productive is to understand why you’re doing it. You understand the why and you’re engaged with what you are doing.
If you don’t know why you’re doing something, if you’re just doing something by rote the chances are you’re not engaged. You’re not working at your best.
Some people they might get up and they might think “well I’m only doing this for the money”, that’s fine there’s no problem. You’ll do the work but it’s just transactional work. You’ll find that you do the bare minimum that you need to. You won’t go above and beyond. Chances are you’ll also start to feel very frustrated. You’ll be feeling bored. At the end of the day, you’re going to think you’re just another wheel in the cog.
If you’ve got a job or project which engages you, which excites you, you will push harder, you will achieve more.
There are challenges to this. Yes, you’re engaged. Yes, you’re enjoying what you do. But you may find that you’re always looking for that next excitement. It’s a little bit addictive. You’re looking for the next shiny thing.
You may find you get bored easily. You do the exciting bits of work then you got to do all that boring stuff. But you don’t like doing the boring stuff. And trust me I’ve been there.
My background is in software development. I love writing code. I hate testing it. I like the excitement of trying out new pieces, new ways, new algorithms. I still hate testing.
Understanding this lets me modify the way I’m doing things. I try and fetch a bit more excitement into the more transactional stuff. Into that testing stuff.
If you can understand why you’re doing what you’re doing you can then build on that. You can come up with some strategies to help you move forward.
If you’re finding that you’re bored and you’re doing the bare minimum, what can you do to incentivise yourself? How can you go a bit further? How can you fetch that extra?
Bring a little bit of excitement into what you may find is mundane and even boring work.
If everything’s transactional how do you fetch some more value to it? How do you move above that transaction and bring that added value?
If you’re bored what can you do to make it more exciting? Can you give yourself challenges? Can you give yourself difficult deadlines to achieve? What else will bring that little bit of excitement into the work?
Like me with testing, once you’ve done the exciting bits, once you’ve done the bits that you enjoy, how can you increase your enjoyment of those boring things? How can you turn them into a game?
Your Team and Customers
It’s not just yourself that you can apply this to, you can apply this to your team members, you can apply this to customers.
Understanding the why, not only yours but your team’s why, your customers’ why, will help you to drive the value you can bring.
Let’s look at your team. Spend a few minutes thinking about things that you do as a team. Think about things that are on your plate that will help someone in your team and then for each of those what can you be doing today to move that on to the next level.
Do you and your team do you know why you’re doing things? A lot of places I’ve been they treat people as resources. They expect robots. They’re expected to do what they’re told and not to think outside the box.
That leads to major issues.
By doing that you’re not encouraging people to look at what’s happening. To think and see if there are better ways, more efficient ways, to do things.
The Big Picture
To be productive you need to be engaged in what you’re doing. You need to understand why you’re doing it.
You need to understand not only why you’re doing it but why you’re doing it the way you do it. One of the phrases I hate to hear is “that’s the way we’ve always done it” That’s like a red rag to a bull. I think that’s such a pitiful excuse.
You should always be thinking to see if there is a better way to do something.
There may be reasons it’s done that way. There might be safety reasons. It might be previous experience, maybe somebody else has tried the way you’re thinking and they can share what they found.
What you need to do is still think about “what can I do differently?” Do a bit of research. Don’t just jump straight in.
Make a small change
I’m all for small changes. Don’t try and change the whole process all in one go. Change a little bit. See how that works. Change a little bit more. Again see how it works.
The bit by bit way of doing things is how you get the long-term results.
Where Does My Work Fit In?
The other thing which is nice to know, especially in a team situation, how does your work fit into the bigger picture.
A lot of us work on large projects. We only see our little bit. We often think to ourselves “I don’t know about this, I don’t know how this is going to add to the results”.
When you can see how it fits into that bigger picture you get the aha moments. You get the “oh yes I can see it now”.
In team situations, share the bigger picture. Don’t keep everything secret. Secrecy will kill productivity.
Being open, sharing, being honest and truthful will allow you to deliver the value that you should be delivering.
If you can understand your why, if you can understand the impact that you’re having, then you’re more engaged. You can see how your work adds value.
You can understand what you’re doing and how it adds to the bigger picture. You can also identify and recommend solutions where things are not working efficiently.
Slightly related, people do not leave companies, people leave bad leaders. Bad leadership demoralises quickly,
An easy way to start demonstrating good leadership is to be able to tell people why they’re doing what they’re doing and why you do what you do.
This is the importance of What is your Why?