C.M. Corner: Your ?Why?

Travis Chapman

Hello 2019!  Most of us are thinking about goals, resolutions, things we want to accomplish over the next year.  Some are thinking about how they are going to get that done.  However, I want to take a minute and explore why.  Something that we don’t often consider is how each of us is in a position of leadership, whether it’s with one student, a small group or an entire class.    In one of the 10 most popular TedTalks, Simon Sinek discusses “How great leaders inspire action” and it all stems from why.   Mr. Sinek gives a number of examples of companies and people who have succeeded or failed simply on the question they start from, what or why But how does this affect our positions and what in the world does it have to do with classroom management?. 
Paraphrasing his talk, if we start from what we do or what needs to be accomplished, we logically move on to how it’s to be done.  The expectation is a positive, appropriate response from your audience.  However, with this approach, people often don’t buy in to the activity because they don’t believe it applies to or benefits them as it doesn’t connect with them.  But, if we start from why, they begin to buy in to your purpose or your “why”.  Mr. Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.  And what you do simply proves what you believe.” In that process, people are inspired to choose the desired outcome. 
Often times we struggle with managing behavior, in particular with the trouble-maker.  We can set expectations and implement reward systems and sometimes they work.  Sometimes they don’t.  But mostly we start with “what”.  For example, we need to get through the lesson plans for the day.  How we do that is by following the expectations and accomplishing the work and then we’ll have a successful day.  But how many of us have heard the question, “Why do we have to do this”.  But what happens if we start with why we are there in the first place.  Is it to help students learn and grow?  Is it because you want them to feel safe and cared for?  Or maybe because you want to help them accomplish their dreams and be one adult believes in them?  If start with our why, whether its something we focus on first thing in the day, remind ourselves of or discuss with our students, we communicate that we have value that we want to add.  And as we do the processes needed throughout the day, “what you do simply proves what you believe”.
I encourage you, as you think about plans and goals for the next year, also consider your “why”.  What is it that drives you?  Why do you want to help these students?  The more we center ourselves on those factors, the more they will come out and be proven by what we do.
If you want to watch this short video, you can check out Simon’s talk at https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action