Not what you do but why

How do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all the assumptions? Why is it that Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in pre-civil rights America, and he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day. Why him?

Communicating inside out

Every single person, every single organisation on the planet knows what they do. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your added value proposition or your USP. But not all know why they do what they do.

What’s your purpose? What’s your belief? Why does your organisation exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?

The way we think, act and communicate is often outside in. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. Inspired leaders and organisations think, act and communicate from the inside out.

If Apple would be like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?” But here’s how Apple actually communicates. “In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.

The way the human brain works

This process is all grounded in the principle of biology. When you look at a cross-section of the human brain, from the top down, the human brain is actually broken into three major components. Our newest brain or neocortex, corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains. They are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behaviour, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language.

In other words, when we communicate from the outside in, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. But this form of communication doesn’t drive behaviour. However, when we can communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then we allow people to rationalise it with the tangible things we say and do.

Finding your goal in business

So if you don’t know why you do what you do, then how will you ever get people to vote for you, buy something from you, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do. The goal is not just to ‘sell’ to people who need what you have; the goal is to ‘sell’ to people who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.


Want to discuss how you can sharpen your why? At marbl we are trained in a range of training, coaching and consulting methods that will bring your focus on the why in your business. We look together with you how to keep on motivating teams in the long run.


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