As I wrote last week, there was little white space on the calendar. More of the same next week and the week after.

This is a good week for me to reach out to one of my favorite people, he doesn’t know this, Dr. Ron Bonnstetter.

I met Dr. Ron at a TTI event several years ago. He knows a lot about the brain which is one of my favorite subjects. I could speak to him for hours on end.

In this week’s post, Dr. Ron ties together the Why of Simon Sinek, No Child Left Behind, and the neocortex.

What Makes Some Businesses Soar and Others Fail?

by Dr. Ron Bonnstetter, Senior VP of R&D at TTI Success Insights and

What makes some businesses soar and others fail? The usual answer is economic conditions, poor market analysis or under capitalized. But a strong business must start with a strong team. A team inspired by a common goal and a crystal clear purpose.

For several years now, Simon Sinek, consultant and author of Start with Why, has been explaining that our best employees do not work for a result but for a purpose.

Simon Senek asks, What is your why?

Photo courtesy of saroy / What is your why?

Their focus is not on what the business does, but on why they are there and their role in promoting a belief, a vision. He believes that much of our marketing and hiring practices need to be inverted. For example, most employees can tell you “what” they do and even how they do it. But can they tell you “Why” they do their job? What is at the core of your business? What are the core values and beliefs that drive your organization?

If you are having difficulty seeing the application and implication in business, just look at educational reform for perspective. Since the implementation of No Child Left Behind, our national focus has been on the what (higher test scores) and the how (more rigor), and we have forgotten the richness that only comes when we promote the why of education. The why component includes beliefs in the love of learning, the sharing of a teachers’ passion for a subject and the joy of accomplishments driven by mutual and shared visions.

Now back to the business world. The best businesses understand the power of shared beliefs. When a team has a shared set of purposes, they go the extra mile, not for overtime, but for a cause and mission that is bigger than any one individual. This is devotion verses salary.

The neuroscience behind this concept is also solid. We know that our newest brain, the neocortex, offers humans rational and analytical thought. It also allows us to verbally communicate through language development. This brain region serves us well as we handle the many daily encounters with the What’s and the Hows’ of life.

But recent neuromarketing research suggests that up to 95 percent of our decisions are made at the subconscious level. In other words, not the neocortex, but our much older and deeper brain region called the limbic system. This complex set of brain structures controls emotions, behavior, motivation and long term memory. Oh, it also has no capacity to support language.

As a result, many of our behaviors, are driven by this paleomammalian brain. These driving beliefs are hard to verbalize, but they are driving the bus and helping us decide what is important.

In summary, if you promote a product, whether education or your business, by focusing on the what and how features, you will fail to capture the heart of your employees or your customers. Remember that the why behind our actions is the most powerful influence you have at your disposal. The next time someone ask you “What you do?” Start by passionately explaining “why” you care enough to do what you do.

I wonder why I wrote this?


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