What’s Your Why?

Yes, I know – my newsletter made it to your desk a little late this month. But I promise, I have a good reason, a great one even…

You see, I’m part of this mastermind group where I get to hang out with 300+ other IT CEOs from all over the world every quarter and talk business, marketing, service offerings, struggles, performance metrics and so much more. These quarterly meetings are absolutely amazing – and since the meeting was at the beginning of the month, my plan was to share with you a lesson learnt from one of the amazing speakers from this event.

This meeting had a LOT of great lessons to choose from – and as I’m writing this, sitting in an overcrowded airplane barely able to type on my tablet, I’m trying to come up with the best story to share with you. The speakers included Larry Winget, Mike Rowe (from the Dirty Jobs television show), and my all-time favorite business author Mike Michalowicz. The best part is that not only did I get a chance to have a quick chat with Mike Michalowicz after his presentation – we also went for dinner at an amazing blues bar in the heart of Nashville where I could pick his brain a little. If that wasn’t enough, I also witnessed one of my peers win a brand-new Tesla for sharing with the group how he managed to accomplish the impossible with his business while experiencing expediential growth in the last year.

If the last two and a half days wasn’t enough to generate some ideas for this month’s article – what would!? Well – here’s the kicker. I’m not going to talk about any of these speakers, because I realized that there is something much, much more important going on here than what the speakers spoke about during the last 3 and a half days.

You see – I’ve been a member of this group for a little over three years, and they include a heck of a lot more than just these quarterly meetings. I’ve had a chance to meet iconic and extremely successful people including Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary, Buzz Aldrin, Steve Forbes, and so many more. I’ve made amazing friends – I would argue my best friends through this group, and while we meet in person ever quarter, 10 of us meet every single week for an online conference call to keep each other accountable, and we dig deep into our business and our struggles. Plus – I’ve also developed a friendship with another member with whom we dig even deeper, almost to the point of tears about anything that is preventing us from performing at our best.

I realized this week that my membership costs (which some would argue are way to high) to be a part of this is worth every penny. And it’s not because of the million dollar events that they put on every quarter (I’m not kidding, these are how much they cost), but the effect that they have on our mental and physical states of working extremely long hours running and building a successful company. The quarterly meetings are in effect an added bonus allowing us to mentally recharge and refuel our passion to come back home and improve our life, business, workflow and level of service.

What do you do to recharge your passion for your business? Even more importantly – are you still passionate about what you do? And whether you are or not, do you know why? A workshop that we did last quarter was to partner up with one of our team members and ask that exact question until we got the underlying cause or reason. WHY? There was no stopping with a generic answer such as “Financial freedom” – but we had to dig deep into why we wanted to achieve both our personal and business goals. We had to keep asking why until we found our reason.

The fellow that I partnered up with (of whom I’ll leave unnamed) had a personal goal of losing 60 pounds. When I asked him why, he gave me a pretty generic “I don’t like being out of breath all the time.”

“Well” I asked, “WHY do you not want to be out of breath all the time?”. Again – he answered with a generic answer of “I want to be able to play sports with my daughter.” OK – we’re getting closer… so I asked again “WHY, do you want to be able to play sports with your daughter?”

“Because” he answered a little less interested in continuing the conversation, “I don’t want to miss out on any of the moments I have with her”. Even though, I feel the answer is obvious, I asked him again why, and he dropped the motherload on me “I lost my infant son to an accident, and eating is how I deal with the pain”.

I’ll admit – that this was not expected, and I tried real hard to hold back tears. Our whys are normally not that extreme – however, often, when we set out yearly or quarterly goals, we don’t dig deep enough to understand WHY we want to accomplish them – and hence our motivation to succeed often fades.

It’s funny – most entrepreneurs will say they started their businesses for financial freedom – yet they struggle day in and day out as the lowest paid employee in their business (if they pay themselves at all!). What happened? Where did they go wrong? Where is the passion that they had when they started their business?

My why was also for financial freedom and being able to spend MORE time with my family. But meanwhile, and only until a few years ago, I was still just an underpaid technician that decided to start a business with no clue how to do it. And after 6 years or so, I was mentally drained and bringing home less bacon than I did when I was working full time for someone else, plus I was working twice as hard!

I’ve been offered multiple acquisition requests in the last couple years, some of which would have been hard to turn down 5 years ago, but NEVER was I interested in letting go my company. Why? Because I don’t feel that I fulfilled my purpose – and quite simply, I hadn’t accomplished my WHY. Problem was, I didn’t even know what my REAL WHY was!

What I feel the missing component to building a successful company has been all those years wasn’t necessarily my passion, but the lack of accountability. The lack of having someone keeping me accountable and helping me understand my WHY by forcing me to dig deep inside and discover the emotions that lit my fire. I was missing friends to help me stay on track, keeping me accountable to my quarterly goals and checking up on my weekly initiatives to make sure they get accomplished!

So, if you are an entrepreneur, or know someone that is – please share with them this most important lesson. Find an accountability partner, share your struggles and find your purpose. Discover your why.

An amazing resource on this topic and to help you surge your business is the Rockefellar habits. I strongly recommend you get your hands on and start reading and applying “Scaling Up – Mastering the Rockefellar habits 2.0 – How a Few Companies make it… and Why the Rest Don’t” by Verne Harnish.

The book is split up into different sections and establishes the absolute importance of having both an accountability group as well as a “partner” in which to have these conversations. The importance of developing your BHAG (Big Hairy Audatious Goal), how you will achieve it, and so much more.

-Mathieu