“Share successful strategies you have used or seen used to advocate for your cause.”
This was the question of the week in one of my favorite LinkedIn groups. The group is comprised mostly of professionals working for local non-profits and foundations, so cause is especially meaningful, but not more important than it is for any for-profit business. How do you engage others in your cause?
I find that most people, and most organizations, have a pretty firm grasp of “What?” they do, and even “How?” they do it. Far too few know “Why?” they do. They fail to grasp, let alone articulate their purpose, their reason for existence; indeed, their CAUSE. As I work with individuals, teams and organizations, this reversal of interests is quite common, even epidemic.
Too often we try to sell people on our cause without even engaging them in that cause; we start with our answer to the questions, in this order, “What do I/we do?”, then “How do I/we do it?”, then — maybe, if ever we get to it — “Why?”.
This explains why some people, teams and organizations are able to inspire and others are not. OK, so that’s my “don’t”.
Why do we exist?
Here’s my “do”: Set aside that nagging question of “What do I (or we) want to be when I (we) grow up?” Instead, ask “Why do I want what I want? Why do I exist? What is my purpose? Why do I want to get out of bed in the morning? What ideal or ideal that may seem just beyond my grasp drives me to action? How will my life, and the world I live in, be different because I have the courage to take action on the thing that is most important to me now?”
Get me to listen and understand your CAUSE as you describe it in this way, and I’ll be interested in what you do and how you do it. Most importantly, I will know whether I want to support you or even engage in your cause with my discretionary behavior, time and money. Don’t get it backwards – most do.
That’s why my promise – my CAUSE – is that I will help people understand and articulate their purpose as readily as they do their name, address and telephone number. Or as I typically put my CAUSE: “I help people with dreams become leaders with vision who add value through their relationships.”
SPREAD THE WORD TO END THE WORD
I have another CAUSE, while I’m at it. I am the father of three sons: the two oldest boys are hockey players; the youngest one is a gold medal equestrian in Special Olympics. I hate to see any of them hurt, and some words hurt as deeply as other words can lift people up. So why not just lift people up? Please take a few minutes more (less than three!) to watch this important message.