Q3 - Why You Matter
Updated: Feb 9
Now and then, someone is able to look at an empty space, conclude it would be a great place to start a revolution, and bravely go forward. – HENRY ROLLINS
WHY YOU MATTER answers the question of what problem you solve and how your solution (expertise and gifting) will make a difference to someone or a group of people.
In business terms, this is where you establish your value proposition. This concept applies to individuals, too. We live in a world where everyone is trying to convince everyone else to care about their accomplishments, their business, their opinions, their notions of what it takes to be an "er”: bigger, fitter, better, faster, calmer, smoother, richer, cuter, smarter, healthier.
To stand out and rise above, you need to understand your purpose – the what behind the why. What is the reason you do what you do? What is the purpose of what you do? This is where your beliefs about your gifting and expertise play a vital role in describing why you are a difference-maker. Once you have clarity on your purpose, you can easily explain to someone why they want what you offer.
For example, Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, believed that technology could offer a better way to balance your checkbook, so he developed Quicken. Bill and Melinda Gates established their foundation for children in other countries that are dying from diseases no longer found in the United States. For hotelier Ian Schrager, the reason behind his hotels was his belief that he could design hotels that fit his aesthetic. Dr. John Bookwalter believed he could develop a safer surgical tool that would be easier for doctors to use for patients who experienced complications during surgery. For Clarence Jordan and Millard and Linda Fuller, founders of Habitat for Humanity, the reason was the lack of affordable housing for those without adequate shelter and a belief in the concept of partnership housing. The unifying power behind all of these difference makers is a belief that they held the solutions.
To answer WHY YOU MATTER, you have to understand why you do what you do. People connect with those that have their best interests at heart. To stand out and be a difference maker, you must be able to clearly describe how what you offer brings betterment to someone else.
Simply saying, “I did this," or “I’m going to do that," and “I'm good at it because of (insert award, personal best, checklist completion here) and that's why what I do matters" isn't going to make you relevant or create rapport with the people you need to connect with. Why? Because a simple list of skills does not help people understand how you'll have a positive impact on them or their situation.
To express how you will make a difference, you need to describe how your gifting and expertise are relevant to solving their problem or providing them the experience they are looking for. To get this value across clearly, you need to be able to explain WHY YOU MATTER.
See WHY YOU MATTER Through These Examples
Personal: I worked with a young man preparing for his first job interviews after graduating from college. A big part of his experience centered on being a leader on the football team. In aligning his extensive knowledge of football with the qualifications needed to get a job in a corporate environment, he discovered that he understands that to win, you must be able to adapt to a quickly changing environment. How did this simple summary describing the value of his skill help him find his dream job? He was able to explain in job interviews; the value he brought was an ability to quickly assess a problem and make surefire decisions that would lead teams to success. And it worked. He received several offers in his desired career path.
Business: When Proflowers first launched, the concept was to find a way to bundle e-greeting cards with locally sourced flowers for special holidays. But the company quickly realized that fresh flowers from florists weren’t necessarily healthy flowers. Devising a system to ship flowers directly from the farms where they were grown, Proflowers was able to provide a new option to people for buying flowers. Why did this solution this matter? In finding new ways to ship perishable goods, Proflowers gave consumers healthier, longer living flowers at lower costs.
The question of “WHY YOU MATTER” is deceptively challenging. It is way too easy to start searching for shortcuts by comparing yourself to others and using their words or phrasing or relying on a long checklist of things you’ve done. None of those approaches will illuminate for others the best in you. How you answer WHY YOU MATTER must be grounded in deeply personal moments of recognition when you see how WHAT YOU DO brings betterment to others. This is hard but worthwhile work. Your dreams are worthwhile, too.
I’m not a genius. I’m just a tremendous bundle of experience. - R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER
Step 1: Reflect on your experience and make a note of where you have seen the most meaningful success. Answer the following questions on a separate piece of paper.
How did your actions make a positive difference for the people you know or work with?
How did you make a difference? How was this positively affirmed by the results of your activities or feedback from others?
How did you make a difference, and how was this affirmed by the results of your activities or feedback from others?
Step 2: Complete this sentence: “My strengths are…” List at least 10 attributes that you consider your strengths.
Step 3: Complete this sentence: “My strengths were demonstrated in accomplishments like…” List the evidence of your strengths.
Helpful Tip! Consider these questions to help guide you: why is your idea or expertise important to you? What is your motivation for what you do? What is the passion fueling your idea? Where does your determination come from? How will this help other people?