Align Your ‘What’ With Your ‘Why’


How do you respond when asked ‘what’ you do? Most of us respond with the job title conferred upon us when hired by the organization we support. “I’m a salesman, project manager, accountant, web designer, business analyst, network engineer, or VP of X.

While there is nothing wrong with such responses, they provide little insight into the impact of what it is that you do. And many times, unless the individual asking the question is familiar with your industry or profession, the conversation generally ends with your response.

I often challenge my clients and colleagues to define their job in terms of ‘why’ not ‘what’. Years ago, I would have told you that I was an account manager responsible for business growth and staff management in support of Federal regulatory agencies. Most often, the conversation quickly shifted to sports and weather. Eventually, I reassessed the purpose of my job and chose to answer the question differently…“I inspire and empower my colleagues to protect human health and the environment.”

Not only did this response lead to more engaged conversations with colleagues, but it also forced me to think more strategically about my job. Furthermore, the simple connection to a greater purpose enhanced my own engagement and passion within the organization I served.

I challenge you to define your job in terms of ‘why’ not ‘what’ and to ask yourself ‘what are the implications.’ And, if you are looking to promote or hire leaders within your organization, I encourage you to consider those candidates that describe ‘what they do’ in terms of ‘why they do it.’ In doing so, you will find those leaders that bring an inner drive and passion to serve a greater purpose. Explore your ‘why’ and CEEK…a Better Way!