Episode 20

How to go from chasing numbers to making an impact by finding your ‘Why’

“Success is the level of joy you feel when you go home at night.” - Peter Docker

Peter Docker, an implementation specialist with the Start With Why organization, talks about how uncovering your team’s higher purpose can lead to significantly higher levels of success, productivity, and fulfillment.

In this episode, we cover:

Today we’re talking with Peter Docker, co-author of the book, ‘Find Your Why .’

Peter is an Igniter and Implementation Specialist on Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team, where he’s helped companies in 88 countries around the world achieve the extraordinary by uncovering their higher purpose.

Peter shares several incredible stories about the power of finding your 'why,' including:

  • Why he quit his job just days after listening to Simon’s now famous TED talk
  • The time he was forced to make a near-crash landing as the 1st officer of a 150-passenger commercial flight
  • How as an officer in the British Royal Air Force during one of the Gulf Wars, he and his team dug deep and found a higher purpose that drove them to incredible feats of accountability

Peter is an incredibly engaging speaker, and this conversation left me feeling charged and inspired, and I hope you end up feeling the same way.

Show notes
  • [00:05:04] Peter’s introduction to the Start With Why movement
  • [00:08:37] What Peter was doing when he began working with the Start With Why organization
  • [00:10:01] The impact that Peter’s work has had on him personally
  • [00:12:09] What it looks like to help an organization find their context
  • [00:14:46] What kind of difference it can make when organizations go from understanding their content to understanding their context
  • [00:19:36] How finding the why is the antidote to ego
  • [00:27:11] What sets apart organizations and leaders that are able to transform their companies with their why from those who don’t
  • [00:39:57] What it looks like when changing an organization doesn’t start from the top
  • [00:44:13] Resources that Peter recommends for people who are looking to discover their purpose or act on their purpose
  • [00:46:02] Strategies you can use to begin with their own personal development
  • [00:49:32] How discovering your personal why can become a driving force of clarity and focus in your life
  • [00:51:40] How to find out more about Peter and his work

[00:00:04] David: Welcome to The Human Strike Back by Hotjar, the weekly podcast designed to help you succeed by putting people first. I’m David Peralta. Today, I’m talking with Peter Docker who co-authored the book, Find Your Why with Simon Sinek, whose TED Talk has had a profound effect on millions of people including myself. Peter is an igniter and implementation specialist on the Start with Why team where he’s worked with companies in 88 countries around the world.

Today, he shares with us several incredible stories about the power of finding your why that range from why he quit his job after listening to Simon’s talk, to the time he was forced to make a near crash landing as the first officer of a 150-passenger commercial flight, to how–as an officer in the British Royal Air Force during one of the Gulf wars–he and his team dug deep and found a deeper purpose that drove them to incredible feats of accountability. Peter is an incredibly engaging speaker and this conversation left me feeling charged and inspired. I hope you end up feeling the same way.

First of all, Peter, thank you so much again for taking the time and coming on the show.

[00:01:14] Peter: Thank you for having me. It's great to be here.

[00:01:16] David: I'd love to start with a little bit of introduction on why we reached out to your organization. Simon Sinek had this amazing TED Talk which, I think, has been viewed tens of millions of times about the need to start with the why behind an organization, not just what we do or how we do it but what's the underlying purpose, what's the reason why we do it. That talk has impacted millions of people, myself included. When we started this podcast, I knew that we had the potential to really make an impact and make a difference in the lives of people, that this was going to be something much more than a marketing campaign for our company, that this was going to be something that we really wanted to make an impact and have a difference.

In order to do that, it was clear that we were going to need to understand the underlying purpose. Why are we doing this? What's the reasoning behind that? Why are people going to care and why does this even matter that we do this now and why is it so important? Once we started to crystallize these ideas and a number of other ideas, suddenly, we started to have this incredible energy and passion for the work that we were doing and we started to feel incredibly charged, basically, especially for me.

I started to deliver the best highest quality work of my life because I now knew that the day-to-day things that I was doing were liked to something that I felt so strongly about. Then, after that, the copy just fell into place. The messaging just fell into place. The design became clearer and clearer because we knew this has to be our focus. The direction that we were going wasn't particularly right and all these things started to happen. It was all because we took a step back and focused on the why.

I knew when we started this podcast that getting in touch with the Start With Why organization was going to be essential and that having somebody from your organization on the show was just a given from the get-go. I'm so glad that you were able to come on the show and to give people a little bit more background. You recently co-authored Find Your Why and you co-authored that with Simon Sinek, the founder of the Start With Why organization.

Having experienced the impact of Starting With Why for the first time finally because I've never been in a company–I'm sorry for taking up all this time for this introduction, but what can I say? I feel so strongly about this. You're actually the guest. You're actually supposed to be the one talking. Anyways, I have always had the feeling that this was one of the most important pieces of the puzzle in creating a successful project or a successful organization, but I had never been at a company that actually valued doing that and so I was never actually either given the support to do it or the encouragement or even the space.

It was just always put off to the side and so no matter how much I tried, it never catalyzed anything until I came here at Hotjar into the content team and we were working on this podcast. This is why this is a topic that, to me, is so important and something that I feel so passionate about. That's why I'm so happy to have someone like you now that I can have a conversation about this, and I'd love to get your perspective. Actually, first of all, I'd love to hear what was your introduction to the Start With Why movement. How did you get involved in working with Simon? What was your background in realizing that the why and the purpose behind what we're doing is so essential?

[00:05:04] Peter: Well, first of all, I love to hear the passion in your speaking, David, because that really captures what it means when we feel connected to why it is we do what we do, and I'll link back to that in a moment. To answer your first question, how did I get together with Simon, what was the link, I can remember exactly where I was when I saw Simon's 2009 TED Talk or the video of it. I was sitting in the boardroom of the company where I used to work, second chair from the end of the table, and I saw that video. I thought, "That's it. That is it."

About four months later, I resigned from my job which was a completely illogical thing to do because it was a "good job" defined generally by high salary and great benefits. I just knew there was more that I could do so I left. I sat at home for about four or five months. I took upon everything that I'd learned through the various things I've done in my life, which are quite varied, and all the lessons that I've learned. Then, I simplified them. The start of what was quite a simple result in terms of five key ideas was starting with why.

I sent a message and, at that time, the Start With Why organization wasn't even that. It was Simon, a wonderful person called Kim Harrison and David Mead, the other co-author of the book, Find Your Why, who was answering Simon's emails on a part-time basis. It was David who picked up that email and he saw something in it. He couldn't quite put a finger on what it was. All I was saying was, "I loved the TED Talk and it goes to the heart of what I believe and it fits the front of all things that I put forth in terms of leadership and who we're being," but he saw something in it.

A few months later, Simon was traveling through London. I went up there to meet him and we had breakfast. We talked for about an hour solid, but what characterized that meeting was that neither of us had pitched up to get anything. We pitched up to give. We wanted to share ideas. We wanted to rejoice in a shared belief, really, and wanted to see how we could help one another. In the most remarkable act of trust that I've ever witnessed, a few months later, he asked me to help take that message around the world and to speak that message, to take that message out there. Now, that was a remarkable moment in itself because you needed a crazy kind of following at that stage. What was even more remarkable was that he had never heard me speak. When we're talking about trust, that, for me, is the epitome of it and it has grown ever since, but that's how we came together and that's how I first learned about the process. That was six or seven years ago.

[00:08:23] David: Where did it go from there? Did you immediately just start speaking from your experience? Did you start going to companies and organizations or were you more supporting the Start With Why organization with the work that they were doing?

[00:08:37] Peter: Well, at that stage, it was very early days and it was just speaking engagements, really. That's what I did. Simon introduced me to the speaking agencies that he was represented by and they started representing me, too. Then, I started offering workshops talking about how to bring these ideas to life in your workplace or in yourself as an individual, and it grew from there. Of course, now, we are a much more robust team in terms of–I think we've got about 23 people–a small but mighty team, and we're able to offer many, many more things to key notes to long-term programs with organizations. I've been to about 88 countries in the world during my lifetime, many of those have been taking this message of Starting With Why, and it's an absolute joy and privilege to do that.

[00:09:36] David: I'd be curious to know what kind of impact has doing this work had on you because it's one thing to sit in a room and see this TED Talk and feel really inspired and feel like, "Yeah, that's probably something I should do," to actually spreading this message and actively helping other people to live the same value. What kind of impact has that had on you personally?

[00:10:01] Peter: Pretty profound, really. You talked about success earlier in your intro and I have a definition of success which is this: Success is the level of joy you feel when you go home at night. Since doing this work, I've had a high level of joy because you can look people in the eyes and see the difference it makes within their world. I think the beauty of it is the original idea of the golden circle and starting with why is we use why as a shorthand for, "What's your higher purpose? What's your just cause once you get out of bed each day?" That's what it means.

When people are connected to that, then it gives meaning to everything they do. There's only two things in world. There's only two. There is content and there is context. Content is the stuff that we do, the things that we say and the work that we're engaged in, but context is what gives meaning to that content. It's like a jigsaw puzzle that we have as a child. All those pieces of the puzzle on the table, that's your content, but it's only when you see the picture on the box that it will make sense because you've got that context.

I've had a very challenging jigsaw puzzle when I was young whereby if you turned over those jigsaw puzzle pieces, there was a different picture on the other side and it's only when you got the other side of the box I saw the other picture there, that those pieces made sense again. I love that example because the work we do with people is not about changing the content because they are generally experts of what it is they do. What we seek has the opportunity of helping them to turn their jigsaw puzzle pieces over and see the different picture, which brings fresh meaning to what they do. That's a very powerful thing to be involved in.

[00:11:59] David: What do you mean by that in helping people to find their context? What does that actually look like when you work with an organization?

[00:12:09] Peter: Most or many organizations focus very much on what they do, the product or the service that they are delivering to the world, and that is often numbers-driven as well, the target by the end of the month, the sales target or whatever it is. That's how many businesses operate, and that's fine. That will reap rewards in terms of financial profits etc but, quite often, it feels unrewarding. As human beings, we are meaning-making machines. We want to understand. We want to derive meaning from what we do.

At the end of the day, when we're all old and grey and turning up our toes to depart this world, everybody wants to know what's it been about, what's the difference that I've made in this world, and it's about serving others. That's how we're hard-wired too as human beings, to serve others. That's what's enabled us to thrive as a species over thousands of years because we aren't the strongest, or the biggest, or the fastest and yet we'd not only survived; we thrived, and that's because we cared together in groups called tribes, a tribe being defined as a group of people who believe in the same thing.

Fast forward to today, the tribes that we belong to are our immediately family but also, for many, it's the company that we work for. When we have the opportunity to talk about what it is that we believe in our tribe, what it is we stand for, many companies say, "We want to stand out in the marketplace." What I say is that before you can stand out, you need to stand for something. What we do is to help people put words around what it is they stand for, what's the contribution, what's the impact that you make in the world. It's not about the product or service; it's about the contribution and impact you make in the lives of others. That's what drives us as human beings. When we can put words to it which go beyond just the feeling that we have, when we can put words to it, we can then become intentional about building what it is we stand for and working towards the vision we have of the world.

[00:14:25] David: What kind of difference have you seen in organizations who have gone from understanding their content and what it is that they do and what they're good at to understanding their context and why they do it? What's the bigger impact? Why do they want to be doing it? What kind of change do you see once that starts to click and once they start to get it? What starts to happen?

[00:14:46] Peter: Well, often, it can be very, very quick. When I've done this work, for instance, introducing the process of discovering the why because it's a discovery process. Our why as an individual or a company comes from our past. It's the values that we hold. It's what's important to us. When we can find those things and put words around them, we can then use why as a springboard for the future to do more of that stuff that reinforces our values and what we hold dear.

For example, I was working with part of a large car company a couple of months back and there was a several hundred people in the room. I was taking them through this process which, by the way, is described in that book, Find Your Why. We want to share this with everybody who cares to listen. I was taking them through this very simple process which was about digging into your past and there was transformation just in the room.

When people realized that they may be chasing the numbers on a daily basis or focused on the product or service, but when they realized the difference they actually made in real human beings' lives, that then unlocks a lot of inspiration, first of all, where people see fresh possibility where previously they saw none. It puts a spring into people's steps because they're keen to get out of bed each morning because they can see the difference that they're making in people's lives.

They can see the reason behind the work that they're doing and it opens up the possibility where people can see how they fit into that company even better, how they can bring their own particular values and strengths to that organization to help work towards a vision that they imagine. That opens up the possibility of people loving what they do. Just to be clear, if you love what you do, it doesn't mean to say you like it every day. It's like if we have kids, we might not like what they do on a daily basis always but we love them all the time, and so it can be with the work that we do when we can put words around the meaning it has on the world, which goes way beyond products or services. The transformation can be quite stark and it can be built upon by using that why moving forward.

[00:17:17] David: I wish that more people would recognize the benefits that come from doing something like that because, in my experience, having worked at other companies where that was not valued, the numbers were valued, the results were valued. I tried as hard as I could to bring that other perspective in and to kind of help think that maybe if we do this, it'll actually lead to more results. Unfortunately at that time, I wasn't armed with as much information as I have now because since then, I've discovered that, actually, teams that feel like what they're doing has meaning and has impact and is personally fulfilling, those are the ones that tend to be the highest-performing teams.

Those are the ones that tend to have the greatest levels of inspiration, of loyalty to the company, of engagement. Those are the ones who tend to go out of their way for their customers and increase customer satisfaction. Those are the ones who end up leading to initiatives that lead to higher levels of revenue which increase the company's stock prices.

There are just so many benefits that come from these kinds of actions that I wish more people were aware of that because I think there's a little bit of nearsightedness when there's too much of a focus on the numbers and too much of a focus in the immediate threats to a business to step back and realize that actually doing this foundational work is a huge solution to a lot of these issues.

I'd love to ask you, what is the effect that doing this work has on–I'm struggling a little bit with the words but, actually, before this interview started, you mentioned that starting with the way and doing this work of finding your why is actually an antidote to ego, which is something that I think a lot of corporations and a lot of companies struggle with, that the manager has an ego, the CEO has an ego, everybody in the team has an ego, and those egos usually tend to clash and lead to all kinds of things that are counterproductive. Can you tell me a little bit more about how the why is the antidote to ego?

[00:19:36] Peter: Sure. I came to this realization when recounting something that happened to me quite some years ago now. I was a pilot in the Royal Air Force and at that time, I flew a large passenger aircraft. I was a senior first officer, as it were, and I was probably pretty good at what I did. Now, this is paramount to the story because, at that time, I was one of the crews that flew our Prime Minister and royals around. I was obviously up there in terms of capability.

This was just a routine flight from the UK down to Nairobi in Kenya, and I was teamed with an experienced captain but not that experienced on that particular aircraft type. Anyway, we flew it down in Nairobi. It's a long night flight and we turned onto the final approach. Around about eight miles from touchdown, you let the wheels down, the gear or the landing gear, wheels down and it takes around about 30 seconds for the wheels to come down. Long story short, not all the wheels came down. The left wheels underneath the left wing did not come down.

There's a set procedure you go through, and we went into a holding pattern and went through the various checks that you had to do. It didn't come down so we went through the next level of checks and it didn't come down, and the next level of checks. By this time, the 150 passengers were getting a little bit concerned as you might imagine and we tried everything we could, but these wheels just would not come down. We had to face the prospect of crash-landing the airplane, which I'm going to tell you, David, is not a great prospect.

[00:21:35] David: I can imagine.

[00:21:38] Peter: The wonderful cabin crew took everybody through the drills. Nobody listens to those safety briefings but they were listening now. They were giving a quick refresher but then a quite remarkable thing happened. The captain turned to me and he said, "I'd like you to fly the approach, to crash land." He said, "I know I've got more years of experience flying airplanes generally but you're at the top of your game flying this particular airplane. I would like you fly it."

Now, think about that for a moment. On a flight, there is a bit of a hierarchy. You've got the captain and the rest of the crew, but here was a guy who was so focused on what was very clearly a why for that moment, which was to get everybody home and safe or on the ground safely, but he suppressed his ego because he was in service of something higher than himself. That's why he turned to me and said, "Can you fly the airplane?" It's a quite remarkable thing to do. I suppose I ought to finish the story. I did fly the airplane. We turned on the final approach to crash land and, by that stage, we haven't got any fuel left because you don't want to burn when you land and therefore it goes wrong. I kid you not, it must have been about five seconds to hit on the ground.

[00:23:20] David: Were the other two sets of wheel still out or did you retract them?

[00:23:24] Peter: Yes, on this particular aircraft. It varies depending on the aircraft but on this particular aircraft type, the other two sets of wheels were out. About five seconds to actually touching ground, there was this clunk and, for a reason that we cannot to this day explain, those wheels on the left wing suddenly came down.

[00:23:45] David: How long before touching down?

[00:23:47] Peter: About five seconds, there was a clunk. They came down. We got a green light which indicates that it locked down, and I probably did one of the smoothest landings I've ever done and everybody was greatly relieved. That's the end of the story. However, the point I'm trying to make is when you are connected to your why, the higher purpose of the team, of the organization, what it's about is about putting that before yourself. That's what we mean by higher purpose, something that goes beyond self. It's in service of others.

That story is a very dramatic example of that in practice. Many pilots that I've known, their ego would have got in the way. "I'm going to do this. I'm the best pilot on this aircraft. I'm going to do this," but no. That guy, huge respect for him, he turned around, he suppressed his own ego and he knew that there'd be probably questions about it afterwards. "Why did you have the co-pilot, first officer, fly it?" He was absolutely clear as to why he wanted me to fly it. I was more experienced on that aircraft type.

Putting that into a business context, when we have tough decisions to make which, quite often, could mean taking decisions which perhaps aren't in our own best interest. There's lots of those in business, almost on a daily basis. When we are connected to our why, it enables us to step up beyond that ego and say, "No, what's the best for our team, for our organization, for my people?" We talk about caring for your people. If you care for your people, one of the greatest signs of care you can give is to be clear on what it is you stand for as a team, as an organization because, as I mentioned earlier, we are meaning-making machines. If we can offer people, put into words, the meaning behind the work we do, then we can all then have the opportunity to rise above our own selves, rise above any ego that may be kicking around and be in service for a higher purpose. That's when you get quite a remarkable team.

[00:26:02] David: That is a remarkable story and, as I said, that really touched me and it really moved me that that captain was willing to make that sacrifice of his own position to make that the higher good was served. It sparks a question in me which is he clearly understood the bigger picture or the context of that situation and what was more valuable in that situation. In a business context, in a company, in an organization, in your opinion, what is it that sets apart the organizations that are able to do that or the leaders that are able to do that versus the ones that aren't? In other words, you have two companies who come to a workshop with you. Both come up with their why. It might be potentially transformational inside the workshop. One company goes back and it stays as a placard on the wall but another company goes out and becomes a living, breathing embodiment of that. What does it take and what is it that allows that second company to do that? What are the differentiators there?

[00:27:11] Peter: I think the word that springs to mind is vulnerability. Let me explain. When we are clear either as individuals or company what it is we stand for and we've put it into words and we share it with others, that act is an act of vulnerability because, by definition, it invites people to don't believe what you believe, to criticize you. The companies that really stand out for me–and I was with one in Budapest of all places, but they're a global company–a couple of months ago.

The workshop started by the senior person standing up and sharing a very personal story from his life which actually got a lot of people in the room very emotional because it's a very powerful story. His willingness to let people in, to be vulnerable, to share what he felt and what he feels about the people he's surrounded by, that then opens up a space into which others can step. Some people will talk about leadership in terms of, "Just follow me," and, in Britain, we say stiff up a lip, and not allow anybody in. That doesn't drive a successful company.

I've worked with part of the police force here in the UK and one of the most powerful moments was when my senior officer got up on stage and I interviewed them on stage in front of about 500 senior people. He talked about the time that he was about eight years old and an incident that's caused him to go down the path that he's now on which is being a police officer, and that's when he intervened when someone was being bullied. Many people during the coffee break were saying, "We've learned more about our senior leader in those few moments than we've done over the last few years."

Coming back to your question, the companies that stand out when they take this idea of Starting With Why forward is the willingness of senior people to be vulnerable, to make it personal to them because, then, you create a space in which others can step because they feel, "It's okay to share my own personal story of how I bring this why to life in my part of the business, whether I'm a doorman, a person who sweeps the floor or some senior exec." It's opening up that space in which others can step, and that requires vulnerability, and that's what leadership is about, and that's what marks out a great company compared to one that is just average.

[00:29:58] David: I think what you're saying also speaks to the fact that one of the reasons why these leaders are so powerful is because when that vulnerability is there, they invite you to step with them alongside of them as equals, regardless of what your position us versus this stiff upper lip characterization of somebody who, "I'm going to lead the way. I'm going to show you the way and you need to follow." I think that there's an element of trust in the first one and also an empowerment that happens that says, "You are just an important part of this puzzle as I am and maybe more so because you have something to contribute that I can never have," and it just creates this bond between team members. This cannot happen in this other case where you have this more militaristic, hierarchical approach.

[00:31:00] Peter: Let me build on what you're saying there because you raised some very, very important points. First of all, being leader has got nothing to do with hierarchical positions; it's a choice that we make. The reason I single out most senior people in the company when we're talking about who takes this idea forward most successfully is because when the most senior person leads in this way and creates a space into which others can step, it has more of an immediate and profound impact.

However, there are many companies out there and organizations out there where people, further down the chain, are choosing to be leaders. That inspires others around them and that becomes a groundswell pushing upwards, and that works, too. We don't have to have a rank or position to lead. You also mentioned militaristic, and you might know that I spent 25 years in the military and led people in combat. I can tell you that, from my experience, particularly when you're asking people to put their lives on the line, first of all, you need to have clarity of why you're doing that which has rarely got anything to do with politics.

It's about the person who stands to the left of you and the person who stands to the right of you and taking care of them in the sure knowledge they will do the same for you. That's a starting point. Also, during my four-and-a-half months as the force commander during one of the Gulf wars, I think I only gave a direct order once, and that was to send one crew home because we needed this rotation of crews out to the Middle East, aircraft crews, and you don't want to send everybody home and bring in a whole new batch. You have to start a stagger.

People felt so compelled as part of this team. They didn't want to be the first to go back; they wanted to stay, and that's the only time I had to direct the order people to get on an airplane and go home. Other times when I was asked to get airborne–and, to be clear, we flew big air refueling tanker airplanes the size of a 767 aircraft, full of fuel, no defensive aids, no elements and we flew around in circles and people shot at us, which is most discouraging after a while.

The first night of that Gulf war, I sent off 40 men and women and I was pretty damn sure I wouldn't see them all back which had a profound impact on me, but they did so willingly because they knew that, ultimately, the fighter jets they were refueling and our troops on the ground wearing American, British and Australian uniforms, they were relying on the air support. Unless we did our job, they wouldn't get their air support and they would die. They were hugely motivated by this higher purpose, and that's why they put their lives on the line.

They come back night after night, reporting the anti-aircraft fire they've received, reporting about going back, having a few hours of sleep and going to do it again, and again, and again. That's what happens when you give people the opportunity to lead themselves, too. The people I'm talking about here aren't high-ranking people. They were just the good routine line pilots and engineers who supported the aircraft on the ground and the technicians. They were just focused on doing their job, and that's because they're connected to that higher purpose.

[00:34:31] David: We had a guest a few weeks ago, Diana Chapman, who was the founder of The Conscious Leadership Group. She defined leadership simply as being anybody who chooses to be conscious and take responsibility for the decisions that they make. That's a leader. It doesn't matter your seniority. It doesn't matter your position, and that sounds exactly like what was happening with the people who are under your command. They were taking responsibility for their decisions and making those decisions consciously themselves rather than simply doing it because somebody else was telling them to do it.

[00:35:10] Peter: Just building on that, because there's a difference between responsibility and accountability. Accountability is given; responsibility is taken. I remember a particular time when our kids were young and they were playing out on the streets–it was perfectly safe to do so–and playing with the other kids, the neighbors' kids. Someone that we haven't seen around the place before came onto the street. Now, I was accountable for our own children but I took responsibility for all of those children to make sure they stay safe, and that's the difference.

When we create the opportunity for people to step towards this higher purpose, then they can align with their own values and that then generates responsibility where they are choosing to take responsibility. Sadly, I can't remember his name but I can remember exactly what he looked like, a heavy-set aircraft technician I have with a shaved head. You wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley at night but, actually, he was the most lovely guy you could imagine.

He'd been changing an engine in one of these big aircrafts outside in a sandstorm. It's taken him eight hours and he needed to get it going. He buttoned everything up and he did a test of the engine, and it was out of parameters. He immediately went back to the engine coiling, undid it, started to unbolt that engine to put another one in, no hesitation. I've had people who were almost in tears, engineers, technicians, because they did not want to be the guy who didn't fix that jet which, by the way, these aircrafts are 45 years old and we didn't have enough spares. They didn't want to be the person to let the team down.

They took responsibility above and beyond their accountability, again, because they were working inside this context that we now call a why. By the way, before we go on, I don't want anybody listening to this to think that I have all the answers or I'm the perfect leader. I'm far from it. I've made a lot of mistakes and, when I look back on my life, particularly in the military, the mistakes I made there, I cringe sometimes but it's through acknowledging these mistakes and learning from them that we grow. I'd just like to share what I've learned to others as well.

[00:37:43] David: It seems like there's been quite a lot that you've learned that is extremely valuable so I appreciate you sharing all of that. You mentioned something earlier which stood out to me, which was that this doesn't always have to start from the top, that it doesn't have to start with the senior leaders or the C-suite, that this can be anybody who takes responsibility for themselves within an organization and starts to make conscious choices about how they want to approach things.

I received an email from a listener today who happens to resonate very strongly with the people-first approach, and she reached out because of, on one part, how much she's struggling in her organization. She's the leader of a call center team who is responsible of the customer-facing aspect of their marketing team and she said–and I'm going to pull up her email and I don't think that she's going to mind us. I'm not going to name her but she said something which really stood out to me.

I'm going to paraphrase. I'm going to read what she said but from different parts of her emails. "You see, I love all the folks that I work with and I believe in the products that we sell. Unfortunately, the company is on the cusp of losing every last one of them if there isn't some hint of positive change soon. My small team deserves a better quality of life than to spend their careers taking a ridiculous quantity of calls all day, every day, fielding the hate storm of our can't spam violating marketing decisions inspire."

"I desperately wish to break through the marketing best businesses practices from 1983 with a well-articulated argument to effectively put an end to the acts of arson that we are tasked of putting out each day. A lot of my folks capture the essence of the dilemma brilliantly. The day the quality of our marketing equals that of the products we sell, that will be the day I no longer feel sick to my stomach defending the practices of a company I long to love."

[00:39:57] Peter: Well, that's a powerful message, somebody who's passionate about the work they do and the product or service that they offer to people and yet how they get there gives them great distress. What I would say to somebody in that situation is a couple of things. First of all, we come across this quite often where people who are not at a senior level will say, "I really get this why thing, starting with why, but those above me don't. What can I do to change their mind?" and the answer is nothing, directly, because no matter how much we try to convince people of something, if they are hard set on a different point of view then, chances are, we're not going to change their mind.

However, there is hope. As Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese commander, once said, “It's the indirect approach, a maneuverist approach,” and that is focused on what you can do, focused on what you can change. Quite often, when we have dissenters, let's call them that, or people who just don't get it, we tend to spend a disproportionate time on them and shifting them at the expense of those who get it and those who we can directly care for or change their circumstances.

I'd encourage that person to focus on their team, their people and creating as much an environment as they can for those people, that team, within their power because that will show great care for that team and they will respond by that. What happens then is that you open up the possibility of inspiration where others from other departments or from above start to see something different happening. I've seen this occur many times and those more senior people then say, "Well, what's going on over there? The results are going up. We want some of that." Suddenly, you've got a space into which you can step to share with them what it is that's different and the transformation you've made.

Now, depending on the particular situation, you can do more or less with your people, but what we can always do is focus on who we're being with those people. Leadership is often less about what we do. Doing is about management, and we have to do that, but leadership is in the vein of who we're being, how we appear to others. Even when you have nothing to give physically, when you can sit down with someone and show them that you care and that you hear their challenges and you give them whatever space they need, that can have a profound effect on who they are being, how they respond to the telephone call as in this example and the way they project themselves to the rest of the world, and that can fundamentally shift a team or an organization. If you're not getting the results that you hope for, pause for a moment and ask yourself, "Who am I being that's causing those around me to be who they are?" and it might open up a few avenues for you of different possibilities of who you can be.

[00:43:36] David: That's profound advice. I think this particular listener is going to really appreciate that so thank you so much, Peter.

[00:43:44] Peter: You're welcome.

[00:43:46] David: One final question that I have for you is, is there any resource that you would recommend to other people to help them succeed or to help them, actually? Aside from your book, Find Your Why, which I also recommend people look into because the process is actually very profound, is there any other resource that you would recommend for people who are looking to discover their purpose, or act on their purpose or from their purpose?

[00:44:13] Peter: Start with yourself. That might sound like an obvious thing but when we're talking with companies or teams, the focus point often is around: How can we get them to do things differently? It's about other people. Actually, the starting point is with yourself. Someone who's, no doubt, much brighter than I am came up with the saying, "Before you can lead others, you need to learn how to lead yourself." I think that's very true. In English, we talk about leading one's life. To lead one's life is about making choices. It's about being clear on what it is you stand for, what your values, what your unshakeable belief is.

When we focus on that and have the courage and vulnerability to get clear on it, which actually starts with getting clear on your own why–that's a good starting point–but when we're willing to go down that route, it then opens up the fresh possibility of how we can inspire others around us and change our situation, transform our situation even. Start with yourself. That's a really good place to start because it doesn't need to have anybody else right at the start; it's just a commitment to reflect on yourself or your being as well as what you're doing. That's the starting point.

[00:45:44] David: Are there any channels or methods or ways that you would recommend people do that, whether it's internally, or meditation, or therapy? What would you recommend as being some of the more effective methods that people can use to start with themselves?

[00:46:02] Peter: I have to say I'm perhaps biased but Starting With Why is a really good starting point because it goes to the heart of who we are and what we believe. It enables you to plant your flag on the island that is representative of who you are, your signature, your character, and to put words around it. I've had the privilege of helping many individuals discover their why, and it is a huge privilege. It is invariably a very profound experience not because of me but because of the process. This isn't an advertisement for the book. Go and borrow one, beg one, you don’t have to buy it, but the process is very simple. It involves you being willing to take yourself on and that, then, opens up the path that you can follow to build on other areas in your working life and elsewhere, but it's about reconnecting to who you are, your authentic self.

[00:47:08] David: That brings to mind a story when I was a senior in my university undergraduate. I was part of a leadership class that happened to have access to some pretty incredible speakers who would come and speak to just this small group of 45 to 60 people. One of them was former Vice President, Al Gore. I remember when came and we were sitting in this conference room and he was walking around. He had incredible presence and what stood out to me the most was when he asked, "Why are you here? Do you know what you want to do with your life?" we were college students at this age.

Not a lot of us had put a ton of thought into it. Maybe we thought of what career or what direction or something, but not this profound why are we here. Suddenly, I find my hands shooting up and I noticed that I was only one of two people who had raised their hands, which surprised me, but it also surprised me equally because I knew immediately what the answer was. When he called on me, it just came out that the reason I'm here is to help other people discover the light inside of themselves.

I didn't know exactly what that meant at the time but I just knew that it was true. Since then, that's guided a lot of what I do because I realized that that's my gift and my purpose, is to help other people discover this potential, this calling that they have themselves that's much deeper than who they think they are. I'm saying that because I agree with you at how important it is to discover your personal why and how that can then become a driving force of clarity in your life and focus in order to help you discover and how it's helped me to discover what is important for me to do, what is not important for me to do and what is it that I actually have to contribute so that, when I'm on the wrong track or I'm not on the right track, I can feel and know, "Is this bringing me towards that? Am I doing something that's leading me towards that?" and it really helps with course adjustments and course corrections. Suddenly, that story came to mind.

[00:49:32] Peter: That's a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with me. The link to what we're saying earlier, discovering your why, is like finding that picture on the jigsaw puzzle box. It gives context to everything that you do and then you can become intentional around choosing those things. We're not just talking about work. We're talking about life, choosing those things that fit into that picture rather than what many of us spend the vast majority of our lives doing, which is pecking around and trying to find the bits that do fit. That's the reality, isn't it?

Certainly, my own daughter, Louise, she's in her mid-20s but when she left university, every job interview she went to, she started with why. She not only had her own why but also linked it to the why of the organization she was thinking to join. Without exception, every interview resulted in a job offer. One of them, when I happened to be driving at home after the interview, they haven't even finished interviewing the other candidates yet because it just helps to put into words the feeling of who you are as a human being, and that is one of the most profoundly powerful things that any of us can learn to articulate. When you're just setting out in life, it helps you to make great choices. By great choices, I mean things that just feel right and, even later in on life, too. It helps us to refine our lives and where we're headed and to build that legacy that we all seek to leave to those who know us.

[00:51:24] David: Peter, thank you so much for coming on and sharing so much of your wisdom with us. I can't tell you how much I appreciated and how much I've enjoyed this conversation. One last thing is where can people go to learn more about you and the work that you're doing?

[00:51:40] Peter: Well, there are a couple of online resources. There's startwithwhy.com, that's our group website and there's lots of resources that people can download to help them on this why journey. Also, you can see the sorts of things that we can offer to help people on that why journey as well. My own website will show blog articles on there and also update it. I try to keep it updated of the cities and countries I'll be in next and whether there are open events or just close company events.

That website is whynotunlimited.com. By the way, Why Not, which is my company came about before I met Simon is just a wonderful coincidence that "why" is in the name, so whynotunlimited.com is another resource. Yes, we've already mentioned one book but the other book I'd love to mention is one of my fellow igniters, Kristen Hadeed, and she's written a book, Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing Almost Everything Wrong.

I was talking about vulnerability earlier in our conversation, David, and it's a wonderful vulnerable book, sharing and talking about all the mistakes she's made, that she built up a remarkable company called Student Maid. Not only the mistakes but what she's learned, she shares that with the world through this book. There is wisdom in that that applies to everybody, no matter what stage of life of career you are in, so I'd happily recommend that, too.

[00:53:33] David: That sounds like a wonderful resource. I'm definitely going to be checking that out. Peter, thank you again so much for taking the time.

[00:53:38] Peter: You're most welcome. It's my pleasure.

[00:53:48] Louis: Thanks for listening, my fellow human. We know how fast paced life is. If you're listening to this on your daily commute, while running, or even cooking, you can always go to Hotjar.com/humans and look for today's episode. That's where you'll find access to all the resources and humans we talked about, the full transcript of the conversation, and even links to really see the episodes.

[00:54:11] David: If you like today's episode, please help us out by leaving your honest rating and review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. The more honest feedback we get, the more we can improve the show for you, and the more this podcast will be discovered by other humans. It's a win-win situation. Until next time, take care and be human.