May 5, 2010
The "Why" of Your Ideas
TED is such an incredible thing. This conference on Technology, Entertainment, and Design is a teeny, tiny non-profit that pulls in the best minds our society has to offer. If TED was a man, I'd marry him in an instant. I like to feature videos here that resonate with me and today's video is one with Simon Sinek, ethnographer and leadership strategist, who talks about developing leadership. He holds that the first thing leaders should ask is "why?"
His main thesis is that, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." For instance, Apple Computers is the leader of the technology pack because they market their products with the message that they want to challenge the status quo by selling sleek, simple, easy-to-use products. This is their "why" and it obviously works.
Coinciding with this talk, I have been thinking a lot lately about my "purpose," as I am sure many do. I ask myself: why do I want to do what I do? Knowing this answer makes me feel more fulfilled and more competent in my work, especially when prompted by others to account for my career choices.
What you do is the proof of what you believe. I don't know if lately I've had an epiphany, but perhaps just a gradual enlightenment/acceptance of the fact that I: a) love to write, b) am fairly good at writing when I apply myself, and c) believe that, despite all the naysayers and current lack of a business model, journalism serves a critical role in our society. Journalism is a public service and I want to be a part of reporting news that can educate the general public on what's happening in our world. This is my why.
I would like to foster an active journalism (action journalism? not sure about the name yet), one that inspires people to actions that makes the world a better place. When people are educated, and hopefully, inspired, they are more likely to act and be effective in those actions. This is crucial and we have to sustain our balanced news sources in any way we can.
Thinking about this type of journalism, I am full of energy, passion, and a sense of purpose. It feels so right to me. There's a lot of risk in pursuing this career, but when you feel something like this - especially after years of a living in a purposeless void - you can't ignore it.
If you have a feeling like this for something that you do/believe, own it and spread the belief. As Sinek says, there is no greater way to effect change then to sell the why of your beliefs.