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What’s your why?

Tom Wall Published on 09 August 2013


Think back to all the stuff your parents tried teaching you when you were a kid.



How did they get all those “lessons” to eventually sink in?

Here’s how it probably went: Your parents had chores they expected you to do.

So they told you what to do. If you were smart, you did them.

When they saw that you didn’t do your work correctly, they probably told you or showed you how to do it … and then that’s when you had to make a choice.

Did you trust their method, or did you have a better way?


I was an “independent thinker.” (OK, maybe the word is obstinate). I almost always knew a better way than “the old man.” So that’s how I’d do things. But, as usual, things would go wrong and I’d learn my lesson the hard way.

You see, it’s not that my parents didn’t tell me what to do or how to do it, it’s that they often neglected to explain the reason why. Truth be told, they shouldn’t have needed to.

I was the kid; they were the adults. I should have listened to them and obeyed, right? But that’s not how most of us work. If that were the case, working with people would be a lot easier.

So … you can probably guess where I’m going with this, right? When it comes to teaching and training your employees, it’s important you explain the reason “why.”

Ultimately, this extra step helps people discover and understand the outcomes and consequences of what they do before they attempt doing it.

But … you probably already knew that.


So let’s take a different approach when it comes to “why”… Why do you do what you do?

When you meet someone for the first time, the conversation almost always starts the same … “So, what do you do?” And if you’re like me, you probably answer by telling them what you do. Here’s the thing … that answer is boring. And nobody likes boring. But that’s your answer.

And then, when someone criticizes your industry or profession, chances are you try to get people to understand what you do by telling them how you do it.

You describe each process clearly, thinking that confusion was the problem, and clarity would help them understand and accept what you do. But unfortunately, a lot of people still aren’t convinced. Tough crowd, huh?

So what about taking a different approach? Instead of telling people what you do and how you do it, explain why you do it. Share your passion by telling people why you’re inspired to do it every day.

Last week, one of my customers told me about his “why.” Although he’s growing his dairy business in order to provide for his family’s financial well-being, his real reason for wanting to grow his dairy is so that he and his wife can teach their kids about raising animals and producing healthy food.

Unfortunately, you’re not going to convince everyone to join your side and support your cause. And yes, you’ll probably always have to tell people what you do and how you do it.

But what truly matters to most people is that you sincerely believe in and operate from your “why.”

In the end, your why brings meaning to what you do and conveys your passion for how you do it. That’s what most people care about. Show them why they should. PD


Tom Wall
Dairy Coach
Dairy Interactive, LLC