Discover Your Irresistible Why

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Very few people will be moved to action by your policies, products and programs if they don't clearly understand why you do what you do and emotionally connect with it.

As Simon Sinek author of “Start with Why” taught us years ago, in one of the most watched TED Talks of all time:

people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

People aren’t moved to change their ideas or take action by data, they’re moved by stories. In his brand new book “Story 10x” author Michael Margolis shares:

“Emotional resonance establishes relevance.”

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to get lost in the weeds of your own project, policy, program or product, focusing on specific data, policy points and even hardware that may be very fascinating to you and your team but alas not to your audience.

In order to create a truly compelling case for any cause, policy or product you need successfully discover, develop and deliver what Margolis calls “the undeniable story”:

“…meaning doesn’t come from numbers. Meaning comes from the story about what these numbers represent or tell us.”

The term "undeniable story" is new to me. It led to a big “aha” moment - in order to create an undeniable story you’ve got to discover the irresistible why of what you’re doing.

Whether you’re a paid professional, a volunteer advocate, an entrepreneur or team selling a product to help grow active, sustainable mobility, you need to understand what is is about this work, this passion, this focus that gets you out of bed in the morning.

Getting crystal clear on your “irresistible why” can take you to a whole new level of engagement with your fan, followers and customers.

My Own Big Irresistible Why Discovery

Several years ago I took a big leap forward as a storyteller when I decided to I wanted to create greater emotional resonance with my website name. I knew two things:

1. I wanted a change from the wonky Women on Bikes California to something short and sweet.

2. I wanted to move from being California-centric to a much broader possible audience, and I wanted to move beyond bikes.

The name Pedal Love came to me at 3:30 in the morning a few days later.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t start to harness the power of the story of this name makes possible until my sister asked me what my personal mission in life was just before Mother’s Day about four years ago. At the time she asked me this question I felt like I was a deer caught in the headlights. I didn’t know.

Here’s what I discovered: By committing to being in a place of inquiry, just living in the question “what is my personal mission?” I discovered that my "irresistible why" is that Pedal Love is really about Peddling Love. I peddle love. Once I got that, once that clicked, I realized that I was passionate about creating better communities through storytelling.

How to Discover Your Irresistible Why

1. What is your own personal mission in life?

Be ok to just be in a place of inquiry for awhile. You don’t need an immediate answer. Recognize that the energy of a question and the energy of the answer are very different. That’s why great ideas come to you in the shower when you’re thinking of something totally different.

Ask the question and then let it go. Move on to something else. Take a walk, a bike ride, cook a meal.

What you’re looking for is the feeling of an emotional yes when the answer of your mission comes to you. It might take an hour, a day, a week, or longer. This is valuable work. Give it time to simmer, and brew to perfection.

2. How does your personal mission play into the the professional work or advocacy that you do?

Do you understand what about it that gets you up in the morning? Is it safety? Social justice? A sustainable world to share with your children and grandchildren? All of the above? Something else entirely?

Getting clear on this removes the wheat from the chaff. It brings you new energy and focus. It will also give you much greater clarity when you’re communicating with your team, your fans, your followers, and possible investors.

3. What do you bring to the table that hasn’t been served the way you feel it needs to be?

In essence, why is the work you’re doing so relevant right now? Why does what you’re doing matter?

I had another “aha” moment when the IPCC climate change report came out last October.

I decided I could shut down in fear like so many, or I could get really focused on how storytelling can offer solutions for curbing climate change.

Why is the work of Pedal Love so relevant right now? Very few are focused on teaching storytelling and communications tools specifically for those growing active, sustainable mobility. Time is of the essence for us to be compelling storytellers right now.

Are you in?

Coming in my next blog we’ll look at how you can take these three answers and craft them into that undeniable story, and begin developing a compelling storytelling strategy.