I just love Simon Sinek.
Recently, my wife asked for a raise. She got one, but not in line with what she deserved or the going rates for her profession (Sharleen is a dentist). One of the reasons in the background was that the organization that employs her has seen its revenues fall recently and is tightening budgets across the board. One of the companies that Kibbutz Lavi runs is Lavi Furniture Industries. So I figured if I could get them making more money, more money would be available to pay my wife. (We will leave aside for the moment that the dental clinic has actually become more profitable with my wife there. A Kibbutz is a communist organization and the regular rules of business don't always apply.)
As I'd recently seen and been recommending Simon Sinek's TED presentation on How Great Leader's Inspire Action, I looked at Lavi's site through the Sinek lens. Mr. Sinek highlights Apple Inc. and suggests it is successful because it doesn't bill itself as a computer company, but rather identifies itself as the company for those who "think different." Looking at Lavi's site, all one is left with is that it is a company that builds synagogue furniture. I searched on-line for synagogue furniture and found Sauder Manufacturing Co. They "reachHIGHER." So which would you want, furniture or a closer relationship with G-d? All things being equal, I find myself more inspired by Sauder, even if its homepage shows a pew with a cross on the end.
I called Lavi and spoke to some of the folk there. They didn't seem moved. The economy is still slack, this affects synagogue donations, and there just isn't the same call for furniture there once was. I was in the states a few weeks ago. In an orthodox synagogue (in a community where many of the people have stayed at Lavi (it also has a hotel), and which probably should know of its furniture company), I turned over a chair to find it was made by Sauder. I wasn't surprised.
Sauder - or its marketing people - got Simon's point. People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it. Lot's of companies make furniture. How many help you "reachHIGHER?" I find that taking a look at the why isn't only good marketing, it's good for inspiring us. I can say I am a lawyer, or I can say I am about helping people move past the conflicts and trouble spots in their lives. I can say I am an English teacher, or I can be about helping people to communicate and powerfully express themselves. I can say I am a Coach, or that I help people live bigger lives, dream bigger dreams, and produce unprecedented results. I can say I am a politician, or that I am about restoring our freedoms and creating the space in which all Americans, and by extension all the world, can live bigger, more fulfilling lives.
I find when I define myself by the purpose instead of the role, I am called differently into action, and am more satisfied with the difference I make in the world. My invitation to you is to look at what you are about. The thing is that you can bring that to any job. If I am about making the world a better place, all that takes sometimes is a smile, even if I were doing a job I hate.
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