by Dan Beaulieu
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”
This is the ad that Ernest Shackleton placed in the London Times to recruit the crew of the Endurance that was setting out for the South Pole.
He not only got a crew. He got a great crew of men who went through nearly unbearable hardships and yet all came back alive by looking out for each other. If you get a chance, read books about their adventures, it’s a fascinating and inspiring story.
But it’s all about “why” people do things. Why they are in business.
The Why is the reason Apple computer is a great company.
The Why is the reason men and women go to war.
The Why is the reason men and women become clergy.
The Why is the reason we went to the moon. Remember that quote from JFK? “We go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard,”
Why some businesses seem to have everything going for them but “why”, and for some reason, in the end they still fail.
And that reason is that they have no real purpose. Or true understanding of why they are in business. He says that without purpose, without a clear and direct sense of purpose people will not give their all.
As an example, he uses one of my all-time favorite stories of the two stone masons who were both laying stone on a large building. When the first one was asked what he was doing, he looked at the person asking the questions and with great tedium in his voice said, “The same I do every day, laying stone after endless stone.” When the second stone mason was asked what he was doing, he looked up at the building with a great sense of exuberance and said, “I am building a magnificent cathedral!”
I cannot think of a better example of what the difference is between having a cause, a purpose and a mission and not having one.
Think about it, what is the “Why” of your business? Why did you start the business. What was your mission? What did you want to accomplish?
Think back to that time and try to remember what you were feeling back then? Get that feeling back…and then pass it on to your team. Instill it in your company culture. Start building your own magnificent cathedral. And you’ll start seeing your business grow and prosper.
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