#46 Roll Your Own: We're Unique So Our Maps Will Be Unique

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The idea behind this site is to develop and stress test my thoughts on business and personal growth. So today I’m going to compare my concept of a work/business WHY to ideas from popular business thought leaders. Today's three lab rats and their topical books are...

Jim Collins - co-author of “Built To Last

Patrick Lencioni - author of “The Advantage

Simon Sinek - author of “Start With WHY


Collins’ bread and butter concept is something he calls “CORE IDEOLOGY”. On page 73 of Built To Last he, and co-author Jerry Porras, share this equation.


And they define these terms this way.

Core Values - the organization’s essential and enduring tenets - a small set of general guiding principles; not to be confused with specific cultural or operating practices; not to be compromised for financial gains or short-term expediency.

Purpose - The organization’s fundamental reasons for existence beyond just making money - a perpetual guiding star on the horizon; not to be confused with specific goals or business strategies.

 If you want more detail without reading the book, you can look here.


Of all Lencioni’s books, the one that best covers the topic of WHY is “The Advantage”. In this book he suggests defining your company by answering a series of questions. The first two of those questions align well with Collins idea of Core Ideology.

Why do we exist?
How do we behave?

Lencioni addresses the existence question on page 82, where he says…

“Employees in every organization, and at every level, need to know that at the heart of what they do lies something grand and aspirational…every organization must contribute in some way to a better world for some group of people, because if it doesn’t, it will, and should, go out of business.”

He addresses the behavior question on page 91, where he says…

“Values are critical because they define a company’s personality. They provide employees with clarity about how to behave, which reduces the need for inefficient and demoralizing micromanagement…an organization that has properly identified its values and adheres to them will naturally attract the right employees and repel the wrong ones.”

If you want more detail without reading the book, you can look here. Scroll down the linked page to “Discipline 2: Create Clarity” and click on overview.


Sinek describes WHY this way on page 39 of his book “Start With WHY”…

"Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money—that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?"

Sinek is so well known for his WHY message that few people pay attention to what he offers next - HOW. HE defines HOW this way…

"HOWs are your values or principles that guide HOW to bring your cause to life. HOW we do things manifests in the systems and processes within an organization and the culture."


It’s easy to see the similarities in these three gentlemen’s work. In fact, Sinek and Lencioni both reference Collins as inspiration for their writings. Which is why, early in my research, I figured I’d be best off adopting one of their systems.

Lencioni’s model seemed most appealing because it was prescriptive. He lays out the questions you need to answer, and he also provides detail on how to attack them. 

Good stuff, but I thought Sinek kicked Lencioni’s ass when it came to defining WHY. And I also had many other authors whose work I admired on these topics.  If I picked a single model I’d be leaving out too much important material. So, in the end, I decided to roll my own.

One man’s WHY is another man’s PURPOSE - who cares? There’s no way to prove that one set of terms is better than the other. And besides, the real work, and the real value, is the personal detail that I hang off the general framework. And wouldn't I be more likely to get real and transparent inside a framework/map hand-crafted just for me?

So this was the thinking that led me to create mapofme. And once I started down this path, everything changed. I quit caring about the rules and the terminology of the various authors and just dove in. The only worry I had was -  what makes sense in my world of one. 

That’s when this enjoyable hobby became a bit of an obsession. And when I started thinking about ways to share this growth-by-drawing-a-map idea.

This experience is an important part of how I got to today, but that's enough of a detour. I need to get back to today's topic, my WORK WHY.


In my world, WHY is just “WHY do I get out of bed in the morning?” You'll find no mention of terms like purpose or mission. That’s because to me they suggest I have a pre-ordained path or super power that I need to uncover or wait for. And I believe that approach breeds complacency, as I described here.

So WHY, as I define it, is about trying stuff and seeing where you get traction. You work your ass off and develop a skill or various skills and that growth feels good. So you do more. And more. And more.

Over time, you look at the experiences and take notice of days where you’re most excited to get out of bed. Then you dissect, from a horizontal perspective, what’s going on that day. And don’t be worried if your WHY doesn’t make you a unique and special snowflake


For example, look at my WHY’s that I shared in my prior post.

SELF WHY: To Learn and Share
WORK WHY: To Learn and Share Stuff about Business and Personal Growth.

There’s nothing unique about my WHY’s, and that’s OK. They don’t exist to make me different. 

They exist to make me authentic. 

Their superpower is that they’re so similar. That they’re aligned.

Which means that once you nail your SELF WHY, you get your WORK WHY almost for free.

So if you want to play this map building game with me, you need to head to the archive and read posts 16-24. Then you need to do the hard work of figuring out your SELF WHY. Once you’ve done that, I predict your WORK WHY will magically fall from the sky. Just like mine did.

But then you might be faced with another extreme challenge. What if your existing business doesn’t reflect your WORK WHY? Then what do you do? 

That’s a tough, tough question. One I want to skip until we get all the way through WHY ME IF and CAN. So give me a pass for a few weeks and I promise we’ll double back.

So I’m biased, but I can’t think of a single downside to doing this work. Other than it might take quite a bit of time. And that you’ll have to be self-aware and self-critical. And that there’s no guarantee of a financial payback. And that the end result might be a realization that you should make some painful changes in your business.

Which is why people avoid this stuff like the plague. 

And that’s a shame. Because at some point doesn’t your business have to provide something more than money, power, fame, ego?

There’s an interesting theory in psychology called Self Determination Theory. It includes several mini-theories, including one named Goal Contents Theory. On the description page for this mini-theory the authors say…

“Extrinsic goals such as financial success, appearance, and popularity/fame have been specifically contrasted with intrinsic goals such as community, close relationships, and personal growth, with the former more likely associated with lower wellness and greater ill-being.”

Translated, this says defining yourself via financial success, appearance, and popularity/fame leads to less well-being. Translated further, it says you need personal growth and relationships or you're screwed.

And, the only path I know to getting un-screwed is to draw your maps and make sure they’re aligned. 

And that’s why next time I’m going to share with you some thoughts on how to get yourself in the mindset for self-exploration.

***Note: This site works best when you read the posts in order. So please head to the ARCHIVE to get started.