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There’s a fundamental difference between achievement and success, and we need both to feel content.

Our achievements are what we do, the goals we reach, the projects we complete, the awards we win and the accolades we receive. Our achievements are clearly defined and measurable. Achievement comes when we pursue and attain what we want. Achievements are milestones that indicate we are on the right path. They are tangible.

Success is very different. Success is not about what we do, it’s about why. Success is a state of Being, an intangible feeling that can be difficult to describe. Success comes when we wake up every morning knowing why we do what we do. People who are successful but don’t feel successful have lost that deep personal connection between what they do and why they are doing it. They know what they do and how they do it, but they no longer know why.

It’s a mistake to make what we achieve our final destination. That's why so many people with wealth and fame feel disconnected and depressed. Remember why you started on your journey in the first place.  Martin Luther King's why is freedom and justice for all.  My why is to inspire people to do the things that inspire them with more abundance, contentment, and success.

What's your why?  If you know it, great.  If you've 'lost it', it's still there. Take some time to ponder and remember why you started what you're doing, your driving impetus, your reason for being.


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How important are symbols like company logos? Do they have meaning? 

Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  President Lincoln and the Lincoln Memorial represent freedom and justice for all. They are in alignment with Dr. King's Why as a leader of the civil rights movement. That’s powerful.

The flag is a symbol. We follow the flag into battle. We plant the flag on the moon. The flag symbolizes freedom, justice, and equality. The flag stirs nationalism and a deep feeling of belonging to something greater than ourselves.

Symbols help us make tangible that which is intangible. Symbols have meaning because we infuse them with meaning. The meaning lives on in our minds and hearts. When the purpose, cause or belief behind a symbol is clear, it can command great power.

Many companies have logos, but few convert them into meaningful symbols. The reason is simple. They are poor at communicating what they believe, their why for being in business. Their logos may serve as icons to identify the company, but that’s very different from being an emotionally charged symbol.

To say that a logo stands for quality, service and integrity just reinforces its status as a logo. These qualities are about the company and not about the cause.

Harley Davidson’s bar and shield has become a symbol of freedom, the spirit of the open road, an alternative to mainstream sensibilities, a fantasy, and a way of life. Harley Davidson represents adventure, independence, individuality and living life with all your senses. The essence of the Harley lifestyle is to dress up in black leather and ride your Harley to the horizon, commanding the world to see you as an outlaw instead of the mild-mannered citizen you are the rest of the week.

Everything Harley says and does supports its why.  It's why filters through the company and comes to life in everything that comes out of it.  Because of Harley's clarity, discipline, and consistency, we can feel what its logo means.

It’s not the company that determines a logo's meaning. It’s you and me, as outsiders. It’s the marketplace. We decide based on what we see and hear. When we can clearly and consistently tell you what a company believes, only then does its logo start to have meaning and develop a persona of its own. 

When that happens, people buy our products and services because of what it says about them.  We only need to compete with ourselves to be the best we can be and to deliver the best product or service possible consistent with our Why for being in business. 

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Every organization has a why – the purpose, cause or belief that defines it.  A why is discovered. It’s not a branding or marketing exercise. A why is about who we are.  Every team or tribe within an organization has a nested why – the purpose, cause of belief that defines it within the larger organization.

A tribe at its best is not just a group of people who work together, it’s a group of people who trust each other and have a common purpose and goals.  A tribe is a place where we feel we belong.

For CEOs, everyone who works within the organization is their tribe.  For directors of divisions, the people who work in their division are the members of their tribe.  For leaders and members of teams, their teams are their tribes.

The nested why helps teams and groups to identify with the people they work with every day. It helps them understand and feel their unique contribution to the whole, while serving the organization’s overarching why.  Within each tribe are people who have their own unique why – their individual why.

The goal is for everyone to work for a company in which they

fit the culture.

share the values.

believe in the vision.

work on a team or tribe in which they feel valued and valuable.

Why focus on intangibles like purpose, cause, and belief?  What’s the benefit for organizations and tribes to know their why? It's simple. When organizations and tribes understand their why, their leaders, directors, team members and staff experience what they do and how they do it on a deeply personal, emotional level.  Being a part of the organization says something positive about who they are. They feel like they belong to something greater than themselves.

Knowing why helps to

foster creativity, innovation, and success.

create a culture in which everyone enjoys coming to work.

support people individually and collectively to be and do their best.

If an organization was a tree:

Its roots and trunk would be its origin and foundation.

Its branches would be the divisions and departments.

The nests on the branches would be its teams or tribes.

Each nest would be a family of birds that belong together.

When employees know their why, they can find the right tree and the right nest. When tribes know their why, they can attract the right birds to their nests: people who will work together most effectively to contribute to the company’s higher purpose and cause. When organizations know their why, they can attract the right birds.

Knowing why is critical to long-term success and is one of the key ingredients missing from most organizations today. Knowing why is like finding the hidden treasure in a painting of a corporate jungle.  Like the children's picture game "Where's Elmo?", discovering why helps to uncover hidden talents and the best in everyone around us.

To the leadership of some companies, "Where's Elmo?" or discovering why may seem frivolous and a waste of time. But, to leaders with vision and foresight, discovering why is a door opener to greater abundance, contentment, and success.

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Nearly every company starts the same way, with an idea.  An idea is fueled by passion, the kind of passion that leads us to do irrational things, like leaving a good-paying job, working incredibly long hours, and sacrificing stability and certainty.

Many small businesses fail because passion alone is not enough. That passion is their why, the purpose, cause or belief that defines them.  Passion needs structure to survive.  Businesses need structures and procedures, so their people know how to get things done, how to set and reach goals, how to do what needs to be done to produce and deliver the best products and services, how to reach the clients or customers that resonate with their why and believe as they believe.

Strangely enough, the biggest challenge a business may face is success.  With success, the company may forget about its why and only focus on how and what they do.  This can lead to disastrous results. Walmart started off as a company obsessed with serving the community and became obsessed with achieving its goals.

When a business is small, the founder relies on gut feelings, what feels right, to make decisions.  As the organization grows and becomes more successful, it’s not possible for one person to make all the decisions. Others must be trusted and relied upon to make all kinds of decisions, which may not be made in alignment with the Founder's why.

As the power base grows, the why becomes diluted, and the company experiences a split. Gut feelings are replaced by linear thinking and empirical data.  They are no longer inspired by a cause greater than themselves. They simply come to work, manage systems and work to reach certain preset goals.  The passion is gone, and inspiration fades away.


Manipulation starts to dominate how the company sells its products and services. Bonuses, promotions, stock options and overt or unspoken threats are used to hire and hold onto talent.  This is the state that most companies find themselves in today. It’s a major cause of stress, burnout. and work dissatisfaction.


Businesses that focus on what and how can reconnect with their why. Starting with Why is hopeful, it feels hopeful for business and the future. It’s the catalyst that can change how business is done and how the everyday man and woman, middle manager and top leaders enjoy and love work life.