A big why matters!

When it comes to the size of a big why it matters a lot more than you think. The advantage of a bigger why is an effect often overlooked by both people and companies. 

In our attempt to be down to earth and navigate reality we often sacrifice the bigger why for a smaller why. We think it’s more concrete and realistic and find it easier to relate to. 

The problem is that a big why is not supposed to be realistic. It’s not supposed to be part of reality. It’s supposed to be on the edge of reality. Out there for you to strive towards, but never actually reach. Like the flower strives towards the light, but never reaches the sun.

Value based why

The reason is that a big why is a value. Not an action. The only action involved is the action you take in trying to reach the value of the big why. If you make your big why too concrete and realistic, it becomes an action, and then it stands in the way of  the actions you should take in order to reach the big why.

Why is this a problem? Because the moment you take your big why to market reality hits it like high speed train, and whatever plan you have fails. No plan survives the meeting with reality, and if you don’t have a big enough why you simply won’t be able to adapt to circumstances and come up with a new plan.

Doubt kicks in

Let me give you an example. Many people and companies make their big why oriented around a product, and then they go to market. Usually the market reacts to that product differently than expected, and as a result you start doubting not just the product, but your entire endavour. Yourself even. 

That’s about as bad as it can be, because then you have lost the game before it ever got started. If a product fails, so be it, it’s just a product. Happens all the time. You will just develop a new product. But if you fail because of self doubt, it’s game over. You cannot come back from that.

The bigger the why…

That’s why you need the big why to be value based. A value can be manifested in endless ways, and so if your product fails it’s no big deal for you to carry on and create a new product, because you have that value, that big why, that you follow. Your second product will be a new version of that value, but the value remains the same.

So you see, the principle is simple. The bigger the why the easier it is to strive towards it, and even though you should also be careful of having too big a why, it’s a lot better to have a bigger why than a smaller why. 

Making a difference is a choice

In all of my years in personal growth and entrepreneurship I have never met a person who didn’t want to make a difference. And why would I?

Once we start asking the fundamental questions and go beyond the daily routines of life, we all want to make a difference. Period. 

The question is, I have found, if we allow ourselves to make that difference. We all say that we want to, but how many of us actually allow ourselves to make it?

Takes will power

Making a difference is a choice. It will not come to us by itself. We will have to pursue it as an active choice in life. Even if we have a natural gift that allows us to make a difference easier than most people, we still need to make it an active choice to use it. 

It takes will power to want to figure out what kind of difference we want to make, and it takes some intense introspective work to find out excactly how. It doesn’t come by itself. We have to want it.

A light in the shadows

To find those answers we have to dig deep within and align them with who we really are at the very core of our being. Usually the answer is straight forward, but we don’t see it. Our own ideas of who we are shadows the truth. We need someone from the outside to cast light upon those shadows and let the simple truth of our inner being emerge.

To try to make a difference without that alignment will never work. Maybe for a while, but eventually life will lead us back to our natural main track through some kind of resistance. We have to be completely faithful to ourselves if we are to convert our actions to something that makes a difference.

The energy equation

If we are not, the very act of trying to make a difference will suck all energy out of us. We will feel that we sacrifice ourselves every day in order to make that difference, and that’s not how it’s supposed to be. Making a difference should give us more energy than we had to begin with. If it doesn’t we are on the wrong track.

The same is the case for a company. In the business world energy is money, and if making a difference sucks more money out of the company than it gives, then the company is making a difference the wrong way. Then it’s not aligned with its fundamental essence as a company. 

Growth

The reason is very simple,

Making a difference is part of a growth paradigm; not a sacrifice paradigm. 

We are not supposed to sacrifice ourselves and our well being in order to make a difference. We are not supposed to hinder growth because we choose to play a bigger part in life than just ourselves. 

On the contrary, we are meant to grow even more as both people and companies by making a difference. The process is supposed to take us higher, not lower.

Rethink

So, if you find yourself in the situation that your attempt to make a difference in life doesn’t take you higher, doesn’t lift you, doesn’t make you grow, doesn’t make more energy and money than you give out, then you are trying to make a difference that’s not aligned with your core being.

The only answer then is to rethink yourself and find a new way. Something you might not be able to do alone. Our inner light often have to be ignited by an external light shining in.

Branding is 80 percent positioning.

It’s one of the most important lessons I have learned, and I learned it from one of the best branding consultants in the world, Andy Cunningham.

In 2018 I took part in a workshop in San Francisco for our startup Duckling about branding. Facilitated by one of Cunningham’s consultants it was a huge eye opener for me when it comes to branding.

A learning mindset

Having been in communication for 20 years and spend some of those years as a political speech writer at top government level I thought I knew strategic communication, message architecture and branding.

But it turned out I only knew two thirds of it. The last third was unknown to me at the time, and it had everything to do with positioning. Because I was unaware of it I was not able to position myself accurately, and as a result my personal branding suffered from it — as did our startup.

Aha!

Andy Cunningham’s method introduced me to a category of brands that she calls missionaries. People who want to change the world and invent solutions for problems that people are not yet aware that they have. The best example of it is Steve Jobs, but we come in many different shapes and sizes.

It was a complete revelation to me, and everything about how I functioned as an entrepreneur, writer and person clicked into place. It was simply the explanation on why I didn’t fit in to any existing categories, and why I always found myself having to invent my own method, because what I needed didn’t exist.

The Michell Leon method

Since then I have experimented extensively with Cunningham’s method for both companies and people, and I have created a synthesis that specifically fits me. It’s the Michell Léon method.

However, I rest on the shoulders of a giant in the branding game, and I’m forever grateful for the eye opener I got at Andy Cunningham’s workshop in San Francisco during the early spring of 2018.