Why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t.
Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP.
But very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result.
By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose?
What’s your cause? What’s your belief?
Why does your organization exist?
Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?
As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing.
But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations – regardless of their size, regardless of their industry – all think, act and communicate from the inside out.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.
Here’s the best part: It’s all grounded in the tenets of biology. Not psychology, biology.
If you look at a cross-section of the human brain, from the top down, the human brain is actually broken into three major components that correlate perfectly with the golden circle.
Our newest brain, our Homo sapien brain, our neocortex, corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language.
The middle two sections make up our limbic brains, and our limbic brains are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language.
In other words, when we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior.
When we can communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from.
Sometimes you can give somebody all the facts and figures, and they say, “I know what all the facts and details say, but it just doesn’t feel right.”
Why would we use that verb, it doesn’t “feel” right?
Because the part of the brain that controls decision-making doesn’t control language.
The best we can muster up is, “I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.”
Or sometimes you say you’re leading with your heart or soul.
Those aren’t other body parts controlling your behavior. It’s all happening here in your limbic brain, the part of the brain that controls decision-making and not language.
But if you don’t know why you do what you do, and people respond to why you do what you do, then how will you ever get people to vote for you, or buy something from you, or, more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do.
The goal is not just to sell to people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe.
If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe. But why is it important to attract those who believe what you believe?
Something called the law of diffusion of innovation, if you don’t know the law, you know the terminology.
The first 2.5% of our population are our innovators. The next 13.5% of our population are our early adopters. The next 34% are your early majority, your late majority and your laggards. The only reason these people buy touch-tone phones is because you can’t buy rotary phones anymore.
We all sit at various places at various times on this scale, but what the law of diffusion of innovation tells us is that if you want mass-market success or mass-market acceptance of an idea, you cannot have it until you achieve this tipping point between 15 and 18 percent market penetration, and then the system tips.
I love asking businesses, “What’s your conversion on new business?”
They love to tell you, “It’s about 10 percent,” proudly. Well, you can trip over 10% of the customers.
We all have about 10% who just “get it.” That’s how we describe them, right?
That’s like that gut feeling, “Oh, they just get it.”
The problem is: How do you find the ones that get it before doing business versus the ones who don’t get it?
So it’s this here, this little gap that you have to close, as Jeffrey Moore calls it, “Crossing the Chasm” – because, you see, the early majority will not try something until someone else has tried it first.
And these guys, the innovators and the early adopters, they’re comfortable making those gut decisions. They’re more comfortable making those intuitive decisions that are driven by what they believe about the world and not just what product is available.
These are the people who stood in line for six hours to buy an iPhone when they first came out, when you could have bought one off the shelf the next week.
These are the people who spent 40,000 dollars on flat-screen TVs when they first came out, even though the technology was substandard. And they didn’t do it because the technology was so great; they did it for themselves.
It’s because they wanted to be first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things that prove what they believe.
The reason that person bought the iPhone in the first six hours, stood in line for six hours, was because of what they believed about the world, and how they wanted everybody to see them: they were first.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it, and what you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.
Now let me give you a successful example of the law of diffusion of innovation.
In the summer of 1963, 250,000 people showed up on the mall in Washington to hear Dr. King speak. They sent out no invitations, and there was no website to check the date. How do you do that? Well, Dr. King wasn’t the only man in America who was a great orator. He wasn’t the only man in America who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. In fact, some of his ideas were bad. But he had a gift. He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America.
He went around and told people what he believed. “I believe, I believe, I believe,” he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause, and they made it their own, and they told people. And some of those people created structures to get the word out to even more people.
And lo and behold, 250,000 people showed up on the right day at the right time to hear him speak. How many of them showed up for him? Zero.
They showed up for themselves. It’s what they believed about America that got them to travel in a bus for eight hours to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August.
It’s what they believed, and it wasn’t about black versus white: 25% of the audience was white. Dr. King believed that there are two types of laws in this world: those that are made by a higher authority and those that are made by men. And not until all the laws that are made by men are consistent with the laws made by the higher authority will we live in a just world.
It just so happened that the Civil Rights Movement was the perfect thing to help him bring his cause to life. We followed, not for him, but for ourselves. By the way, he gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech.
Listen to politicians now, with their comprehensive 12-point plans. They’re not inspiring anybody. Because there are leaders and there are those who lead.
Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to.
We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with “why” that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.