A Leader Has A Why

Very few people can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY do you exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? ~Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

I didn’t always know my Why. Some days, I found myself slogging through the work day feeling mired in the muck of another 8 hours to be endured. Other days I would leave the office feeling energized, feeling I was making a difference, surprised that 10 hours had passed, anticipating being in the office the next day. Some days, I connected deeply with people and felt I had the best job in the world. Other days, I felt I needed to escape the office to avoid my soul from being crushed by vampire tasks sucking life energy dry leaving an emotional corpse. It was a roller-coaster with little predictability.

What I discovered about those bi-polar times during my introspective writing was those days I felt the best were linked by a common theme. Those days that felt worst were linked not so much by a theme as by an anti-theme – that is – it was work outside the theme during which I felt best.

The theme was rooted in my personal why, a why that became clear to me while I was living and working in India during which I had many hours of solitude to explore myself. I had an inkling regarding the nature of my why prior to my move, an inkling that formed into a full-fledged understanding during my assignment in which I was given free reign to grow my assigned teams to develop software independently from home office in Chicago. It was out of that petri dish that clarity was spawned.

I now have a clear understanding of my why, a why I can articulate, a why I use to ensure my career choices are aligned with my personal passion. I discovered when I aligned my passion with my skills the result was often times magic.

My Why

I believe everyone, no matter who they are, matters to God. If someone is important enough for God to care then they must also matter to me. The janitor is as important as the CEO, the rich are no more valuable than the homeless, the criminal matters just as much as a justice on the supreme court, the immigrant has as much value as the native born.

This heartfelt belief that every person matters is my why.

Furthermore, I believe God breathes into everyone’s soul an internal why, a purpose as singular as a fingerprint, and the unique gifts necessary to achieve the purpose. I believe each individual’s unique gifts, when shared, fulfill the individual, bless their teams, are a gift to the world. Each person living their purpose and sharing their gifts is a necessary piece in the puzzle of humanity without whom the world is incomplete. Unfortunately, as used to be the case for me, many are unable to articulate their why so they slog through life instead of dancing into the future.

Because I have a heartfelt belief that every person matters, my personal mission is help everyone I coach understand their giftedness, how they can apply it in the world, and helping them to unleash their power. I am committed to their success. I am committed to adding value to people.

My How

My current role is an Agile Coach. My what, my “product”, is unique to every person I coach. It is a tailored approach designed to help each individual along the path to realizing their potential in the context of their teams. It is creating a culture in which all team members can realize their gifts, share those gifts, and go home each day fulfilled.

My product was to create a leadership training course in my last company to help leaders focus on valuing the unique individual in the context of creating great products instead of sacrificing individuals to maximize shareholder value. I use those concepts today when coaching leaders.

My product is this blog. My goal is to publish a blog at least once per month over the next year with writings focused on helping leaders connect with people value and leading them for the benefit of the people instead of the glorification of the leader.

My future product is….I don’t know yet. I do know it will be within the context of my why, in the context of helping each individual realize their potential.


I encourage you to undergo the adventure to understanding your why. Start by reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Action, undertake the arduous journey of introspection to understand your purpose, then realign your role with your personal why. It will make your daily journey an adventure instead of a slog through energy sapping mud.

Author: David A Olson

I often find my mind wandering to various subjects, subjects that make me stop and think. The blog, Musings of a Middle Aged Man, is a catalog of those thoughts I muse upon as I search for significance in life. I am the father of 3 children and the grandfather to 2. I spend my days working for a medium sized multinational corporation where I am an Agile Coach. I view myself as a Servant Leader, have a passion for leadership, particularly, in helping people develop their individual leadership skills and abilities. In October 2012, I went to India on business. After a week of being there, I still had not talked to or texted my 7-year-old grandson. He asked his mom, "Is Papa dead? He hasn't texted me all week." To facilitate communication now that he and I no longer live together, I started a blog for us to communicate. It's titled, "Correspondence Between Luke and His Papi". In April 2013, I moved to Pune, India on an 18-month delegation. It's an adventure that was 1.5 years in the making...The experience is captured on my blog, "The Adventures of an American Living Abroad" My two latest blogs are "The Learning Leader", a topic I have been studying since 1990, and "Lipstick on a Pig", a foray into the fashion sense of this middle aged man.

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