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The Power of Why

"We imagine a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every day inspired, feel safe wherever they are and end the day fulfilled by the work they do." Simon Sinek.

If you have not heard of Simon Sinek and you follow leadership skills in any capacity you might as well be living in a dark hole within a cave that is within a mountain that is located on Mars. His breakout TED Talk is amazingly 13 years old now and still one of the most popular TED Talks to this day with over 59 million views and over 15 million views directly on YouTube, aptly named "How Great Leaders Inspire Action."

If for some reason you have not watched this 18 minutes of pure leadership gold, do me a favor if nothing else and even if you don't finish reading this article... watch it here;

We all hope one day in life that at some time for some reason, a lightbulb will go off and we will find our true calling in life. Whatever that may be and if you have found yours, I applaud you. 2013 is when my lightbulb went off and this video helped me reach that moment. In short and as Simon would probably say, it is when I found my "Why". In the TED Talk, Simon explains a very simple yet very powerful model for inspiring and leading others and it is a model that when followed can yield great results for your team and your organization. I am living proof of that from how I choose to lead in my position.

I love the first day of a new job. The butterflies, the adrenaline and the unknown. It's exciting, right? Ok, maybe I'm in a boat all by myself on that one. I understand if you are on the other side of the pendulum. There is nothing wrong with that. When I come into a new position or a new consulting job, all I see are possibilities and those possibilities are endless. Nothing is off the table and nothing is out of this world crazy enough not to consider or at least talk about. I guess that's the reason why I love budget season so much. To me, budget season is that "new job" feeling in which we all come together with dreams and plans for what we want to do in the future. Hopefully those all line up with your strategic plan or City Council goals, right? Every budget season I find it fascinating to work through everything like a puzzle and see how many pieces I can fit together.

Over the years of doing budgets and working with city councilors and budget committee members, I have found that having a pessimistic attitude can really derail any conversation. The one naysayer in the room can easily ruin the entire conversation and drag down the entire group. How do we lead past that? How do you over come those naysayers? I always go back to WHY.

Ask your departments and city council why they are here. Why do they come to work everyday... it's not the paycheck, because that is the result of the day, week or month. Dig deep and find out why. For me, it is knowing that I am working towards a better community. We all have different ideas of what that community looks like in the future and as much as we disagree with each other at times on what should be done or when it should be done; ultimately we all do want the same thing and that is typically a better community to live in.

Much like the "I have a dream speech" from Martin Luther King, it was about an ideology of what he wanted to see in the future. It wasn't a 12-step plan. It was about what he believed. Surrounding yourself with people that believe what you believe can make all the difference in the world. Think about the friends that you have in your life right now and friends that you have lost throughout the years. I remember in high school I had my core group of friends that we did everything together. We played the same sports, watched the same shows, and took the same classes. We had the same belief system and the same values. As we grow up, priorities change and life changes on us. Some friends drift away for a multitude of reasons and not always bad reasons. Work is no different. When you surround yourself with people that believe what you believe, you can accomplish more then you thought was possible.

Once you take the time to figure out your why, it can change how you work throughout the day and the goals you have in your career, your team, and your organization. There is no shame in admitting that you have not found that why yet. There is no shame in admitting to your team or your organization that you need to find that why collectively as a team or an organization. Goal setting and strategic planning can be a process that helps you narrow down your focus into things that your team and organization find important. It is an important part of any organization to identify a mission and vision for their community and something to strive for. It should be something that you all believe in and that you can all get behind in your daily work. It should be a belief that you think about when making decisions during council meetings or taking those next steps as a department.

I love strategic planning and the discussion that it creates around a team. More often then not, strategic planning can bring individuals closer together to work as a team. It helps identify those common goals to work towards and allows your staff to truly focus on what is important to you as a city councilor, department head, or a leader in any capacity.

If you are interested in a strategic planning process or what that might look like, I am available to help. Please do not hesitate to reach out and we can talk specifically about the needs you see in your team or your organization.

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