It’s a pretty complex question. Over the years, I have learned that if you can clearly answer the question of Why you do what you do, many other parts of the equation fall naturally into place.
Many years ago, I read Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why. Have you ever read something that resonated so much with your soul that it changed the way you looked at everything? That’s what Start With Why did for me. In it, Simon shares his concept of the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is made up of three circles, one inside the other. The outer circle is What We Do, the middle circle is How We Do It, and the inner circle, at the core of it all, is Why We Do It.
The idea is that if you understand the core reason why you do what you do and why you are pulled in a certain direction, then the wider questions of how to proceed and what to proceed with will fall into place.
Simon talked about how we all have a Why within us. It usually emerges in our teenage years and becomes an undercurrent in every decision we make, whether we recognize it or not.
For Simon, he believes that every Why inherently includes a way to serve others. This is because we are a species that survives and thrives on connection. So, this connection we need subconsciously weaves its way into our greater Why.
This is probably the hardest work you will do before you start your shop and business. If you are like me, you just want to get started. You want to produce great products and make some money so you can create even more. But, in my experience, this approach will only lead you to a dead end. If you cut corners on doing the hard work now, you’ll find yourself lost down the road and you’ll need to start all over again.
Five years ago, I started my journey to find my Why. It took a lot of trial and error, many false starts and failures, but it was necessary. This is a very introspective journey and it can feel intimidating. At this point, you are probably asking yourself “Why bother? How important can it be?” But it is important. It is important because the human race is one that consumes not from a place of logic or reason but from a place of emotion. So, how can you connect with your customers’ emotions? By connecting first with your Why. “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”― Simon Sinek
Every decision you make as you start your own handmade business on Etsy becomes so much easier when you take the time to explore and build the strong foundation that is your Why. Your every decision becomes supported, and it is easier to find others who believe what you believe and who will join you.
Finding my Why took a lot of soul searching. I looked into my past for that one thread that spanned the length of my life. One thread, like a piano string that reverberated. It was like a melody that played at every event in my life. It journeyed with me during the bad times and during the good times. When I finally found it, I realized it was with me every step along the way in my life.
In my teen years, I loved to hike in the fields behind our house. I also loved to look at beautiful photographs and art, and music was a big part of my life at that time. As I grew up and went to University, although I loved art and photography, I didn’t believe I was talented enough to succeed, so I took a Liberal Arts degree. I was able to take every photography course my University had to offer, as well as quite a few art and art history courses. I spent a lot of my time hanging out at the photo lab. My fondest memories are the creative adventures I had with other photographers and artists at this time.
Being creative and hanging out with creatives became a singular thread that I subconsciously wove through my life from my early teens onwards. I played the drums in high school, and after University, I joined a gospel choir. For the last thirty years, I have brought my skills to my choir—and especially my choir director—to help them grow as creatives. Looking back on my experience in the choir, I clearly saw the thread that made up my Why.
The times in my life when I was most comfortable with myself were the times when I helped others with their creative projects. That was when I realized that …
My Why is helping creatives create.
I do that by sharing my skills with other creatives to help them level up their ability to share their creations with the world.
So, how can you find your Why?
I will be honest; I did not go through Simon Sinek’s full Start With Why course I kind of took my own path. If you are someone who needs guidance, I highly recommend Simon’s course. But if you are like me, someone who likes to explore on your own, these are the steps I would recommend you follow.
- Think about your teenage years. What were you into? What resonated with your soul at that time in your life? You might want to write down some of the stories you remember and the core threads that seemed to be present in your life at that time. There might have been more than one.
- Now, journey forward in your memory. Find the places where these threads of thoughts appeared. Does one thread seem to keep coming up? What was consistent no matter what the circumstance you were in?
- How is what you are creating today affected by this thread of an idea?
- How can your serve others with this thread of an idea?
This is the foundation upon which your Why will be built. You might want to find a trusted friend to help you work through this process. Sometimes, others can see things we are not seeing. Just remember that what you come up with together needs to resonate deep within you.
This is hard, soul-searching work that might bring up emotions that are hard to deal with. I recommend that if you run into some tough emotions, consider talking with a professional counsellor to work through it.
At the end of this process, you will have a beacon in your life that can guide you in every decision you need to make.
Since figuring out my Why, I have found it easy to run my business. I know that my decisions will always be based on my Why. If an opportunity does not respect or align with my Why, I have learned to let it go. If I am doubting a decision, I find that it fits into my Why, then I will trust it.
I would love to help you find your Why as we start our journey together. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or share your Why with us. It helps a lot to see the journey other creatives are embarking on, too.
Come back next week when we will look at the first thing I did when I decided to start an Etsy shop.
If you would like to take this journey with me please subscribe to the Evening Shire newsletter and make sure you check the Artist Blog at the bottom.
About the Author
With a lifetime of experience working in the creative industry, my passion is helping others craft an authentic and compelling brand that helps them reach their own creative potential. I am a photographer, graphic designer and musician. I help creatives create. Learn More…
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