What versus Why

As seen on www.LandmarkLeadership.org – 5/6/2010

Martin Luther King Jr. said the words that have been repeated by millions of teachers, administrators, students, leaders…”I have a dream.” Little did those people who went to listen to him that hot August day in 1963, know that his “dream” would come to fruition and would go on to inspire all 200,000 of them in attendance.

Would go on to inspire a country…

Would go on to inspire…change

Would go on to inspire…ACTION

Simon Sinek explains in an intriguing 18-minute TED talk that people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it. His argument is enlightening, interesting, and in a word, fascinating. In fact, watching that may help you better understand where I am coming from as I continue this blog entry…click on the link and watch…I’ll wait…

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Isn’t the material he gives about Apple raising your eyebrows? It gets better…keep watching.

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Ok you should be done by now.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

Think about that as you enter your next job search.

Think about that as you plan out your next staff retreat.

Think about that as you ponder what you are doing in your current position: would students/faculty/staff “buy” what you are “selling” if they saw you in “action”?

Which brings me back to Dr. King – people did not follow him and his words because he was a fantastic orator, or because he dressed sharply, or because he went to exotic locations. He was particularly ordinary by many means – an educated, well spoken reverend was/is not hard to find. However the way in which he did it – with the passion, the thoughtfulness, the drive, the humility, and the faith were qualities harder to find and those are the reasons people followed him (IMHO).

They believed in his message but not because he was speaking but because he was preaching. Preaching, not speaking, not lecturing, not talking, but preaching with the full faith and devotion of someone who was committed not because it was the right time to say it but because it needed to be said.

As Mr. Sinek points out Dr. King gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech. Dr. King wasn’t pitching a plan or a strategy; he was stating his beliefs with the fervor and passion that others envied.  It was that envy that brought others to a point that it inspired them to take action.

Do you as a professional act in ways that inspire others to take action? Do you as a professional take action? Do your students and colleagues listen to you speak or do they hear you preach?

It’s May which means year-end reports, budget planning, and time to look back on the pool of assessment you’ve done throughout the year. After reading through the reports, the assessments, the evaluations…sit back for a second and write on a whiteboard or piece of paper, “I have a dream…” and let your staff (and yourself!) finish the sentence keeping in mind Mr. Sinek’s theory;

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

Rock on,

Joe

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