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We all have stories.  Stories about what happened to us in childhood, as teenagers, as young adults and at various turning points in our lives. 


Our stories have a limited purpose.  They can help us to define our why, the reason we get out of bed in the morning and do what we do.  They can show us what we want and don’t want in life, how we want to act and not act, who we want to model ourselves after or not.


Our stories become self-destructive or just a waste of time if we use them to explain how we are or how things are in our life.  “I’m just time-challenged. I can never get anywhere on time.”  “I don’t know how to (fill in the blank). It’s just something I'm not good at.”


The only thing that we can control is ourselves – how we feel and act, our attitude and outlook on life, what we make of what we experience in our life and the world around us.


It can be confronting to bring everything back to ourselves. If someone is acting like an idiot and we feel angry or hurt, we need to bring it back to ourselves.


Why? Because we are the one having a reaction. This person is getting to us, and that’s a gift.  How can this possibly be a gift?  It’s showing us a bit that’s broken and that can be used as an ‘in’ to manipulate or control us.  It’s showing us a bit that needs some understanding, compassion and love.


Why talk about stories and reactions, and what does this have to do with success in business?  These stories and reactions can be patterns we use, consciously or unconsciously, to sabotage our success or to keep us from being only so successful.


What we bring to business that attracts clients and customers to us is who we are and how we make them feel when they are around us.  It's about the presence we hold.


We must be competent at what we do and how we do it. And, there are lots of people that do the same thing as us. In order to stand out in a crowd, we need to love the parts of us that are sabotaging our success. That are getting in the way of us moving forward.


The only way to do that is to bring back every reaction we have to someone or something else back home to ourselves. This can feel sharp and unsettling.  But, we can reframe it. Actually, it’s an amazing opportunity to let go of something that’s holding us back and keeping us small or keeping us from realizing that goal, completing that project or landing that new client. That’s hopeful.


When we bring it back to ourselves and acknowledge, “Hey, I’m really angry or hurt”, and then sit with it for a moment, something shifts inside of us.  When we acknowledge our feelings, stop judging the other person and ourselves for having a reaction, for not handling the situation better, for saying somehing 'stupid' or whatever, we feel different, like a weight has been lifted off of our shoulders. We can just accept this is how it is.  “It’s not about me. This person is lashing out, not because of me, but because of something that's happening inside of them.”


Once we are no longer in judgment, we can bring in gratitude. Gratitude that we have the courage to look at ourselves with new eyes and be real with what’s going on, and not make it about somebody else.  Gratitude that we don't have to take on the dramas of others and make them our own.  Gratitude that we can let go of what's been bothering us and see the situation from a fresh perspective.


Gratitude is a key. Gratitude helps us do a better job and not backdoor ourselves with negative self-talk or making someone else’s bad hair day our fault or our responsibility.


We can do and be our best without becoming mired in our client’s dramas, unreasonable demands or poor behavior. As leaders, it is not kind to ourselves or those under our charge to become doormats or compost bins for our clients.


Gratitude and acceptance can light the way for new kind of business acumen and entreneurial spirit that supports the best interests of all concerned.

A life-changing event happened when I was seventeen years old. I felt and experienced for the first time in my life that I could make an actual difference in the world. I could give and receive selflessly, having no agenda other than to help and be of service, and that changed me.


The experience opened the doors of my heart to a new way of being. This may sound dramatic and huge, even though the actual story may not seem like much to you. What happens on the outside is not always indicative of what it feels like on the inside. We give meaning to all kinds of things in our lives, and those meanings can support and uplift us or drag us down and keep us small.


It was a strange day weather wise. All of a sudden it became very dark, still and quiet outside. It was a hot summer’s day, and and nothing like this had ever happened before. I can remember standing next to my mother and looking outside through sliding glass doors that lead to the side of our back yard. We were oblivious to the dangers of being next to so much glass in such a moment.


As dark clouds enveloped the sky, an erie stillness came over the world and we lost electricity and contact with the outside world.  My mom was nervous and worried.  I was curious. This was really weird. What was happening?


When electricity finally came came back on an hour later and we turned on the TV, what we saw stunned us. A huge tornado had touched down near us and had leveled an entire town an hour north of us.  Xena, Ohio was gone, destroyed with bits of homes strewn everywhere.  Helicopters were flying above Xena and sending stark pictures to the every USA television and radio station.


Our home was spared, as were the houses around us.  I remember my mom calling my dad at work and assuring him that we were alright.


The tornado had touched down and moved on. Live action of devastation was comsuming the news. It was surreal.


My mom and I decided to go for a walk and see what had happened.  As we walked a few blocks from our home, we saw roofs blown off of homes and bits of houses in the street. The further we walked the worse it got.


Mom turned around and went back home, saying she had some things she needed to do.  She had seen enough. I kept walking.  I remember coming to a neighborhood that was a mess.  There was a middle-aged woman walking around the front lawn of her half-destroyed home. Her adult son was there with her. She seemed anxious, distressed and in shock. She was in her bathrobe and her hair was all over the place. She was wearing house shoes and was aimlessly walking around.  She inadvertently stepped on something sharp, a nail or piece of glass, and started crying, almost wailing.  Her son swooped down, picked her up in his arms and carried her back into the house. It was one of those moments you don’t forget. I had never seen an adult cry like that.


I decided to knock on the door of one of her neighbors whose home had also been hit pretty hard.  A woman about ten years older than my mom answered and I asked her if she needed some help.  She looked at me and then said alright, she would appreciate that.  I walked into her kitchen and there were boxes on the floor.   There was glass and dirt in the house, and she needed to pack things up and get them out of the house so it could be repaired.


No one else was there to help. I didn’t ask any questions, but I wondered where her family was.  She must have had adult children, and yet she was alone.  I helped her pack up dishes and other breakable items into boxes. We worked side-by-side for the rest of the day into the early evening.


Years later I found out that she recognized me. She knew my family and had called my mom to let her know where I was, so she wouldn’t worry. That didn't occur to me at age seventeen.  I was wrapped up in the moment.


I felt really quiet and calm that day. I don’t remember what we chatted about. But, I do remember her strength and sense of humor, just doing what needed to be done with a positive attitude.  I could tell that she appreciated my company and help.  It was a comfort not to have to do the job alone.


The feeling of being with her was serene. It’s hard to describe. I enjoyed her company. I felt accepted and appreciated.  I felt like I belonged and was exactly where I was supposed to be.


When I left and walked home, I felt changed.  It was the first time in my life that I felt that I had actually made a difference in the world by me being here. This experience opened doors inside of me that I didn’t know existed.


It was a time in my life when I was rebelling, trying to find my own way and be my own person.  I yearned to be free of my parent's rules and control, but still needed their help and support.


It’s funny what sticks with you, what memories and feelings never fade.  I remember the day as if it was yesterday.


The guy I was dating spent 24 hours trying to reach me. The roads to my home were blocked by the police. Trees had fallen on electrical wires, on homes and in the street.  It was dangerous.


When he finally got through, I could feel his relief. I remember him smoking cigarettes with my mom on the back porch. It was one of those bonding experiences as he relaxed because he knew I was okay.


That didn’t stick with me like being there for someone else, being needed and helping in the moment. He faded away into the history of boyfriends’ past, and the memory of making a difference still brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.

We all have stories that form the foundation of why we do what we do, why we are who we are.Remembering and sharing our stories helps us to get in touch with our why.  Getting in touch with our why helps us to give back in ways that touch the hearts and lives of those around us. Getting in touch with our why helps us to experience abundance, contentment and success in a whole new way.

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 of 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 the hope for 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.

I support people to do what they love and be their best so that they make a real difference in the world. That’s who I am when I am at my best. That’s my why.


Everyone has a why.  When we articulate our purpose, and take steps each and every day to live and be that purpose, our lives change dramatically.  No longer is our job or business just something that we do.  There is a fire or passion within us because we know why we get out of bed in the morning and how we can be of service to others.


When we are in service to self only, we may experience moments of happiness.  Happiness is a dopamine hit. It’s the feeling we get when we buy a new home, have dinner with a good friend, hug someone we love and so on.  Happiness is real and yet it is fleeting.


Fulfillment is an oxytocin hit. It’s the high we feel when we help others, when we make a difference in someone else’s life, often in what appears to be small ways.  It can be as simple as sharing a smile or as daring as rescuing children from a burning home.  Fulfillment runs deep and is long lasting. It is a deep, heartfelt experience that does not leave us.


We can all remember moments when we selflessly helped someone else, and how that made us feel. When I was seventeen, a massive tornado hit my home town. My house was spared, but homes a few blocks away were partially gone or leveled.


I remember going for a walk and knocking on a random home's door that had lost its roof, and asking the middle-aged woman who opened the door if she needed some help. She did. We spent the day packing dishes and other valuables into boxes. 


This small experience was profound for me. For the first time, I felt like something I had done really mattered. I felt the joy of giving. My heart felt open and full. A seemingly small experience of selfless service opened me up in a profound way to acceptance, unconditional love and belonging.


Knowing our why is about service to other, and that opens us up to the abundance of the Universe.


Knowing and living our wht, individually and collectively in business or as a part of any organization or group opens us up to being fulfilled and feeling successful. We can appear to be successful to the outside world without feeling successful inside.


Knowing and living our why and the organization’s / group's / team's / company's why that we are a part of opens us up to feeling successful and llving a rich and fulling life.   We feel successful when we know and live our why, when we know that 'it's not all about me; it's about the difference that I make in the world by being here'.


We can each become our own purpose expert and model that for others, helping them find and live their own unique why.  Imagine how that would change the world!

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 each individual 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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