Know Your History, Purpose and Direction

Why do you do what you do?
Understanding your purpose, what motivates you and most importantly using this knowledge to advantage is key to your success, both professionally and personally.
 CoachStation: Reflection on Purpose

My eldest daughter, Maddy, is currently in year 9. One of her elective subjects this year is Business and as part of the curriculum Maddy was asked to interview a business owner to better understand why, how and what was required to set up the business. I am proud that she chose our business for many reasons.

Firstly, it is an opportunity for Maddy to fully understand what I do and why I do it. This is important for any parent and child but possibly even more so as I work from home and I do sometimes wonder if our daughters find what I do a bit of a mystery! This has provided an opportunity for us to spend time together with purpose, but with a different context than much of the rest of our relationship, which has been fun. Finally, it has forced me to think about and clearly articulate answers to the excellent questions that Maddy had developed.

The process had other benefits. It encouraged additional reflection on my purpose, both personally and through my business, CoachStation, while both answering the questions and in the few weeks since. It provided the opportunity to delve more deeply into my initial answers on the importance of knowing why I do what I do and how that influences my direction and future focus – a process I encourage you to do too!

If you have not had the opportunity to view or read any of Simon Sinek’s material regarding marketing and to ‘Start with Why‘, I highly recommend you spend a few minutes doing so. Interestingly though, I have found that his key concept has as much bearing on how we see ourselves as it does with tangible things such as businesses. Knowing your purpose and why we do what we do matters…both in business and in our personal lives.

What does that even mean? To explain this concept, Sinek has developed what he calls the “Golden Circle,”. The golden circle has three layers:

  1. Why – This is the core belief of the business. It’s why the business exists.
  2. How – This is how the business fulfills that core belief.
  3. What – This is what the company does to fulfill that core belief.

Sounds simple, but what Sinek found is that most companies do their marketing backwards. They start with their “what” and then move to “how” they do it. Most of these companies neglect to even mention why they do what they do. More alarmingly, many of them don’t even know why they do what they do! (1)

When developing, maintaining and growing my business, I have focused heavily on the ‘why’. Similarly, during my coaching and mentoring sessions with clients, I find myself asking the same questions. Not everyone can answer these easily, however. Understanding your passions, why you do what you do and your core beliefs will help you understand not only who you are, but help to drive your future goals and direction.

It is my story that I would like to share via an abbreviated version of Maddy’s case study questions and my answers. When working with my clients it is this type of understanding that comes from increasing self-awareness and honesty with self that is the baseline for development and growth. Possibly through answering the same questions, there may be a similar opportunity for greater knowledge of yourself and your purpose.

Knowing why CoachStation exists has been paramount to my success to date. I am sure it will be in the future also. As is always the case when writing my blogs, I hope that this information inspires you to think more about not only what you do but why you do it. Let me know how you go.

     Could you summarise what CoachStation offers and does in a few sentences?                         

CoachStation helps people and businesses to become more effective and efficient in what they do. We do this by developing awareness, skills and capability at an individual, business and organisation level. CoachStation provides consulting and business advisory, coaching / mentoring and human resource related offerings. Ultimately, CoachStation focuses on the people side of business.

     When did CoachStation start?

I started building CoachStation (website, social media etc.) in 2010 and started full time work in the business in 2012. However, the real creation of the concept was being developed throughout the previous 14-15 years as I became more aware of my capability, passions and the need to develop more effective leaders. I often feel like it has been a 25 year apprenticeship to this point.

     What roles have you previously been in that have added to your expertise that allowed you to set up CoachStation?

I have been a leader throughout my whole career which started in late teens when I was fortunate enough to be provided with an opportunity to participate in a two-year supervisor traineeship with a large retailer in Adelaide. This meant from a young age I knew that leading, not just managing and working with people was something I would always pursue. My career from that point has almost always been in leadership roles within the retail, hospitality, finance and contact centre industries in Australia and overseas. My last two senior roles were as National Customer Experience Leader with GE Money and Head of Customer Service for Toyota Finance Australia.

     Do you think that your previous work history had a significant role in your thought processes leading up to the setting up of CoachStation?

Yes. As I mentioned previously, the work and experience gained from over 25 years of employment led me to this point. Certainly as with all of my roles, each opportunity honed my skills, provided exposure and built acumen. Although it may have taken a different form, I believe that coaching and consulting was always the ‘end game’ and I would have still have ended up here. Being exposed to the business environment helped to drive me and you only have to speak to most employees to know that there is genuine opportunity to develop more effective leaders in most industries. Whether managers are prepared to acknowledge this is another point altogether!

     Why does CoachStation exist?

Purpose = Building Success, Making a difference.

Vision = To make the world better, one leader at a time.

Mission = Through developing trust and strong relationships, we use our skills and resources to help people and organisations be the best they can be.

     What are the most important CoachStation values?

We have 7 core values and they are all important. Any member of my team and frankly, my friends, share these values.

  • Fun and Enjoyment
  • Optimism and Hope
  • Respect
  • Learning and Growth
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Values-Driven
  • Leadership in Practice

     Can you give a brief summary of CoachStation’s work in the past 12 months?

Primarily our work is based in Queensland and New South Wales, however that has been rapidly changing. Industries we have worked within include finance, architecture, recruitment, health, government and local council. CoachStation is currently in a significant growth phase with a team of business partners joining us recently to extend our reach and influence. I am so very excited at this opportunity as I have been able to align the people who mean the most to me, their individual values and the CoachStation purpose and values. This means that we will be able to continue to grow, assist others and make a difference without compromising on what matters most to us and our clients.

     Why are the current members of the CoachStation team involved? How did they become involved?

As mentioned, they are long term relationships and friendships based on a shared belief in values, doing the right thing, giving natures and of course highly capable and skilled people. I am passionate about helping those who have assisted me in my career and life and are authentic in all they do, not just when it is convenient.

     Why did you decide to start your own business as opposed to being employed?

There are many reasons. Primarily, I wanted to have the opportunity to be responsible and accountable for my own success; increase the level of flexibility and autonomy in my own and my family’s life; and use my skills and capability to best effect (I  have choice, control and options to work with who I want to, when and how). Interestingly, it is because I started to truly understand my purpose that made this transition so much easier and obvious, to me at least. People have sometimes commented about how ‘brave’ I was in doing what I did. To me it was a greater risk to keep moving down the path I was on than to make the leap into running my own business. I recognise it is not for everyone, however.

     How do you stay motivated to continue to do your best?

By seeing the difference that we are making with and for others in reality; developing myself and my team; whilst also continually developing new relationships and product offerings.

     What separates you or makes you different to your competitors?

Genuine desire and ability to make a real difference in people’s lives – making it more than a tick box exercise and following through on our purpose and values is feedback we receive consistently as a key differentiator.

     What benefit do you believe having experienced business partners has opposed to people who are new to this field of work?

It’s critical in the work CoachStation does. The ability to make a genuine difference and help people can only occur when you have deep capability to relate to different types of people, use various experiences and history and provide solutions to their problems. Credibility is core to making this happen, as ongoing work and recommendations are all critical to our ongoing success.

     What products and programs do you use within your workshops and meetings?

We have created most of our own original workshop material; coaching models; assessment tools etc. I am also an accredited DiSC behavioural assessment facilitator and uses other tools such as Gallup StrengthsFinder and the Real Deal Values assessment. Having said that however, these tools are simply that…tools. It is how you use the information that the resources, assessments etc. generate, along with the increased self-awareness that makes the real difference. I often say, “you need a hammer to build a house, but it is not the only tool”, meaning that it is a part of the story but you cannot rely on the tool itself to generate change.

     How do you use social media to your advantage?

It’s massive! The modern business marketing and technological opportunity that social media provides is one of the greatest marketing tools for any business, particularly small start-ups. It is cheap, accessible and dominant all over the world. Whilst I understand the negative aspects of social media, I am still a little surprised by the polarising nature and reactions of many senior leaders when it is mentioned in business circles. Like anything, there are good and poor ways to apply a system or tool.

     How do you show ethical values i.e. honesty and fairness, non-discrimination?

Personally and professionally I am influenced heavily by my ethics and standards. I believe that anyone who knows me understands this. Too often I see managers, and people generally, who display integrity and are ethical mostly, but pick and choose those times on occasion. In my world it is one of the few genuinely black and white areas. Ethical standards are also shown by always following through, earning trust and being trusting. Our actions show genuine commitment to clients and caring about improvement through the results. It’s about delivering and always giving more than expected, which relates back to my earlier point about the need to provide more than a tick box exercise.

 

(1) http://blog.hubspot.com/customers/3-takeaways-from-start-with-why