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Executive Forum Recap: Knowing Your WHY

In our monthly executive forums, we explore ways to grow your interim career and secure the opportunities you want. This month, we share insights from Mark James, CPC (author and founder/president of Hire Consulting Services) to help you determine what inspires your work and makes you successful—your WHY. 

What’s happening: Interim executives are facing more competition for roles.

As interim executive opportunities rise in popularity, so do the number of candidates who step up to fill them. To land the roles you want, you need a compelling way to stand out from the crowd so you become the top choice.

What’s required: Clear differentiation and self-marketing.

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to know your WHY (the reason you do what you do). Beyond that, you must communicate your WHY in a compelling way, including how it delivers a bottom-line impact to others.

Defining Your WHY: How to Tap Into the Passion Behind Your Work

During a recent conversation with Mark James (Founder and President of Hire Consulting Services), we learned the value of self-knowledge—especially when knowing and communicating your passion, your worth, and your impact as an interim executive.

According to Mark, it’s not what you do, but WHY you do it that matters. Your “why” is driven by intrinsic motivation (which comes from within). This motivation means doing something because you feel inspired or driven because the result is personally rewarding to you. Whatever your daily focus (e.g., coaching, leading, directing, managing), hopefully it’s reflective of your true “why,” because when you’re doing work that you’re passionate about, it will have a real impact on the people and companies you work with.

  • Your WHY is your purpose, cause, or fundamental goal. It’s the driving force behind all that you do.
  • Making decisions becomes more manageable when your WHY is positioned at the forefront of all you do.
  • Your WHY helps you remember your values so that when it comes time to make decisions, you’re doing what’s best for you.

Three Questions to Determine Your Why:

To help understand why you do what you do, and the inspiration behind it, consider these three thought-starters:

  • Step 1: Identify what you do to improve other people’s lives, businesses, and companies.
    This is the starting point. It helps you understand what you do and how that work helps other people (whether personally or professionally). For example, this could be your work as a mentor (either formal mentoring or casual coaching)—both of which improve team members’ skill sets and overall work output.
  • Step 2: Think back to the activities you have done over time that made you forget the passage of time.
    These would be situations where you felt totally unrehearsed, completely comfortable, and felt you really made a difference. These situations have inspired your passions, used your true talents, and brought a “fun factor” to your work (generating excitement and motivation to keep you going each day).
  • Step 3: Think about the biggest wins in your career. How did they make you feel?
    Think about the proudest moments in your career and let those moments help define your passion and WHY. Keep it simple. Don’t forget to include the impact you made—helping to turn around a business or solving a difficult challenge. Then practice rehearsing these wins in your mind, so you can recite them to other companies and inspire them to work with you.

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