Recently I was facilitating a Leadership session in the great state of Iowa. To accommodate the size of the group, the organization partnered with the local community college. I have to say I was extremely impressed with how modern the facility was and the AV system was state of the art.
During a break I noticed that the restroom only had air-blowers to dry off your hands after washing them and got really disappointed. Being a frequent traveler, I wash my hands obsessively and for some reason I’ve always preferred to use paper towels to dry off my hands. Air dyers are loud, they take longer, my hands never really seem to get dry, and if the restroom is busy, well that’s just another line I get to wait for.
Usually along with hand dryers, there is also an option to use paper towel, but in this particular building, it was hand dryers or the old wipe-em-off on the back of your pants. Since this is a Community college, I figured like many public organizatio
ns this had been done to save money. In that moment however, I wasn’t concerned with cost savings, I just wanted what I’ve always wanted- Paper towel! Really- is that too much to ask?
Reluctantly I huffed and puffed over to the hand dryer to begin the long, tedious process of running my hands under compressed warm air. As I was doing this, I noticed a message written clearly on the front of the dryer that said:
“High speed energy efficient hand dryers are now being used instead of paper towels.”
Now normally that is the only message I’ve ever read on these machines- but underneath the message in green writing was a second message:
“One ton of paper consumes 17 trees, three cubic yards of landfill space and pollutes 20,000 gallons of water.”
I stood there reading that statement over and over again. At first I didn’t believe it, so I Googled it just to make sure I wasn’t the victim of some sort of fake news or distortion of the facts.
Sure enough multiple sites confirmed those statistics. Something else happened through the course of the day. Every time I had to wash my hands, I wasn’t the least bit irritated. In fact each time I read that statement as I dried my hands, I actually felt pretty good.
Think about that for a minute. As a result of understanding more about “Why” I was being asked to do something that was a little bit inconvenient for me, my
entire mindset shifted. I no longer felt the need to grope about what I didn’t have. I became more engaged and energized to actually do something just a little different. I started to get excited that this small shift in my behavior, could really have a big impact! Sound familiar?
As you know anytime something strikes me like this, I believe there is a lesson I can learn and share with others. Here’s an idea, when you ask your teams and those around you to make changes in the way they are doing things- Give them the Why!”
As human beings, we are not designed for radical change. We are designed to do the same things over and over and over again. It’s the reason why sometimes after work, we get into our cars, drive home, pull into our driveways and then suddenly realize we have absolutely no idea how we got there.
Change is difficult, but to be successful in business and in our lives we all inherently know the change is necessary. For some reason when we are asked to make a change our first reaction is the feel as though we have to give something up, or sacrifice something.
My initial reaction to no paper towels was that I was being asked to sacrifice, convenience and cleanliness for the sake of saving a few bucks. My mindset shifted when I was told the impact of how no hand towels in this one building over the course of time would have a huge impact on the environment.
Now don’t kid yourself, I’m no heroic environmental crusader, but obviously I think it’s important to do things that will help impact our world for the better. For some reason that day I enjoyed using the air dryer- and I can tell you for a fact I never have before.
We all have changes coming up in our businesses and in our lives. If you can tap into the “Why” and clearly articulate this to your teams and to those around you, there is a much better chance to create the buy in that will allow for those changes to actually take place and create something sustainable.
Knowing the “Why” gives us all a purpose and something to hang out hats on. Studies are confirming that the next generation of worker is extremely interested in the “Why” of the companies they choose the share their talents with. It can’t just be about making a profit-or saving a few bucks, and yes that’s important too, but when you share a meaningful why you can achieve so much more, with so much less resistance.
Sharing the Why, will not eliminate all of the challenges faced when it comes to making changes, yet it can be a great way to start shifting the mindset of those you are asking to make those slight adjustments and Quarter Turns that will ultimately allow you and your business to achieve something special.
As for me, well I may actually start using the hand dryers now even when I have the option of a paper towel. All because someone decided to tell me “Why”
Ask yourself this week:
How am I sharing the “why” of our business with the people I’m asking to do the work?
What would your team say if they were asked about their “why?”
What is your why?
What steps are you taking to connect even the most simple tasks in your business to the “why” we do what we do?
Thoughts for the week:
Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. - Buddha
If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all. - Michelangelo
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. – Michael Evans
What if “the hokey pokey” is REALLY what it’s all about? – Curtis Spencer
It’s very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. -Jim Collins
A poor leader will tell you how many people work for them. A great leader will tell you how many people they work for. -Simon Sinek
Looking forward to our next connection