Why Do I Need To Know My 'Why' Anyway?

I’d be willing to bet that people like Roger Federer, Oprah Winfrey, and even Donald Trump have a very clear idea of what their underlying values are and that these underpin every professional decision they make. However, they didn’t set out to be famous, they just focused on their goals and had the confidence to go after their them while making life better for others in some way.

Episode 61 Blog

Why do I need to know my why anyway?

“Where are people at with this "know your why" stuff?  I'm calling it as officially the most overused phrase, idea, concept. Thoughts?”

When our own Paul Meissner recently posed this simple question on his LinkedIn page, he expected to get some replies, but he didn’t expect the lively conversation and number of replies that followed. (77 comments on the original post and 17 on the subsequent podcast episode post and counting.)

Paul was referring to the business training session he’d caught a glimpse of where the importance of knowing your why was being taught in a classroom context with a whiteboard in much the same way as a school maths class. While he believes that we each need to know our own motivation for doing the work we do, he queried whether this was still a useful thing to devote mass training on and whether it should be promoted as a selling point on our websites.

In the related From The Trenches podcast episode, Do Accountants Need To Know Their Why?, Dave Boyar agreed but added that, as accountants, we do need to focus on what motivates us or risk getting lost in the endless cycle of just turning up to work because it pays the bills.

Paul’s LinkedIn readers tended to agree on the following points:

  • Yes, it is important for accountants (or anyone) to know and understand the purpose and value of their work and why it is important to us.
  • No, we don’t need to make a big song and dance about it in marketing strategies, BUT
  • We do need to ensure it comes across in one-on-one conversations with our clients and that it is clear through our actions and choices.

Let’s look at the rationales behind these key points.

Why some of us need to know our ‘why’

I’d be willing to bet that people like Roger Federer, Oprah Winfrey, and even Donald Trump have a very clear idea of what their underlying values are and that these underpin every professional decision they make. However, they didn’t set out to be famous, they just focused on their goals and had the confidence to go after their them while making life better for others in some way.

For many of us, being clear on our ‘why’ helps us draw strength when we face challenges and keeps us moving forward.

However, we don’t need to have a burning passion for all the work that we do. For example, you might just need a job to help you pay the bills or to fund your next overseas trip. Maybe you are in a good job or you’ve started a business that you think will be profitable and you just want to allow opportunities to come up in their own time. Maybe you are happy simply being in a service role that helps others and that’s all the ‘why’ you need. If it works for you, that’s fine.

Why we don’t need to shout it from the rooftops

When people go looking for an accountant (or any other service professional), they aren’t going to want to trawl through the ‘About Us’ section of your website and see a list of professional qualifications or a series of vision statements like, “We aim to be the biggest firm in our field in Australia”. Nor are they going to want to read through a page full of meaningless hyperbole. If anything, too much focus on how great you are can be a really big turn-off for prospective clients.

What you can do is promote the fact that you can help your clients discover, or re-focus on, their ‘why’s’ and give examples of how you have done just that.

Why we need to get the message across somehow

For some organisations, it does make sense to advertise your values and goals as selling points on your ‘Why deal with us?’ website page or literature. When all else is equal in terms of meeting client’s needs, showing that your values align with theirs could mean the difference between choosing you and choosing someone else. For example, just as clients might choose one coffee shop or brand over another because of ethically-sourced ingredients, your accounting clients might look at who you’ve worked with and how well their business looks after the environment or treats their people.

In most cases, though, you won’t need to explicitly promote your ‘why’ in your marketing strategies. If you have a strong, positive purpose, it should be evident in the things you do every day. If you don’t know your own purpose and are just going through the motions, this isn’t going to help you or anyone you deal with.

Now, whether we need to teach people how to find their ‘why’ in a classroom setting is possibly a LinkedIn question for another day.

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Many of the themes in this article came from Episode 61 Do Accountants Need To Know Their Why? presented by Paul Meissner and David Boyer. Paul & David are passionate CA's who care deeply about the accounting industry.

Paul quit his accounting day job seven years ago and now owns and runs the Melbourne-based firm, 5ways Group Chartered Accountants, and his online Freedom Accounting System firm which allows him to travel and work from anywhere.

For the last 4 years, David has worked as a Virtual CFO. At the start of 2016 he co-founded the Virtual CFO Association and in December 2016 his company, Sequel VCFO began franchising to mobilise the experienced work force of accountants in industry and bring their expertise to SMEs.

Together with their impressive list of guest presenters, Paul and David are the brave souls needed to fight through the noise and give accountants in practice the support and information they deserve.

 

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