Chantal: Peter, welcome along and thank you so much for joining us on the show.
Peter: It’s my absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Chantal: Now, in the Precor Quick Fire Five last week, you told us a little bit about just how much travel you’ve been doing over the last five weeks. Tell us, where are you in the world today?
Peter: Today I’m in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m here for the next few days. I’m going to enjoy a bit of sunshine.
Chantal: Well, knowing how busy your schedule is, this is an absolute honour and a privilege to have you on the show today. Thank you for squeezing us into your very, very busy schedule. Now, I’m pretty sure that most people will be very familiar with Start With Why, but can you talk us through why is it important for individuals and for companies to understand why they do what they do?
Peter: Well, I’ll answer that in two levels. The first level is that when you understand why it is you do what you do, it makes everything you do just more efficient and more sustainable in the long term. That’s the hard business aspect of it. But at a human level, when you understand why it is you do what you do, it makes what you do much more fulfilling. Also, at a company or a business level, it creates great cultures where people get up each day inspired to go to work, feel safe whilst they’re there, and they’re going home feeling fulfilled at the end of the day.
Chantal: As I mentioned, I think a lot of people have probably either read Start With Why or they’ve seen Simon’s TED talk, and we’re going to be talking shortly about Find Your Why, which is the book you have co-authored and just released recently. But before we dive into that, I just want to make sure that everyone’s very comfortable and familiar with the golden circle. So can you talk us through what the golden circle is?
Peter: Sure. Well, any individual, any business, can be [inaudible 00:01:48] operate on three levels. There’s what it is we do, our product or service, and then how we do it, which is our unique selling proposition, what makes us different or special or better. But then very few people or organisations know why it is they do what they do. By why, we don’t mean to sell a product or service. That’s a what. By why, we mean what’s your just cause? What’s your higher purpose? What’s your belief? Why do you get out of bed each day, and why should anybody care about that? As a consequence, most of us think acting communicates starting what it is we do, and then we work our way through the how and that’s when we fizzle off. But the inspired leaders, the inspired organisations that seem to attract great loyalty and following, they think acting communicates starting with why it is they do what they do. They start with their belief.
Chantal: Now, last week in the Precor Quick Fire Five, you did share your why. Can you share that with everyone again just now?
Peter: Sure. My why, the way I express it, is that I enable people. I enable people to be extraordinary so that they can do extraordinary things. The extraordinary can mean lots of things. It’s just extraordinary to them in their context. It could be something small, it could be something large. It could be something personal, it could be something professional. Whatever it is, then I get my joy through enabling people to bring that extraordinary to life.
Chantal: Now, one of the things that I read in Find Your Why, Peter, was that Simon Sinek’s personal why is actually the same as your overall business why. Am I correct in saying that?
Peter: Yeah, pretty much. That’s because Simon is our guiding light, if you like. With any business, when the founder starts the business they should be passionate about what they do because it’s not a rational thing to start a business. So if you’re starting a business and you believe in it, you’re passionate about it, then your own personal why, your own personal higher cause, should be consistent with that of your business, because why wouldn’t it be? Since Simon Sinek is our head, our visionary, if you like, his why is at the forefront of our business and what we do.
Chantal: What I loved about the book Find Your Why, Peter, is just how practical it was. I mean, it really is a step-by-step guide on how to find your why. In fact, you go through an exercise to find your own why, and then there’s also [inaudible 00:04:23], obviously, to help your team find their why. What are the benefits of actually helping your team members or your employees find their why?
Peter: Well, if you help your employees find their why, then if you already know your business why, it enables them to find their place in your business and to bring their best selves to that business, and it helps them to feel more fulfilled. So it’s a huge gift to give your people the space to discover their why because, well, when you know what your why is, that single sentence, it’s representative of the golden thread that actually runs through your life of all the things that you’ve felt fulfilled by.
When you’ve got that single why in a single sentence, it allows you to put into action every day, whether that’s at home in your home life or indeed in your working life, in your business. When people are starting to act beginning with why, then they bring their whole selves to your organisation and it unlocks things such as discretionary effort, where people are choosing to do more because they want to do more, rather than just doing the bare minimum. So there’s huge benefits from discovering your why for your organisation, but also allowing your employees to find their why and to find their place within your organisation too.
Chantal: Without giving away too much of the book, can you maybe briefly touch on some of the key points that you go through during that exercise?
Peter: Yes. Whether you’re discovering your why as an individual or discovering it as a business, the key is in the title. It’s a discovery process. This is not a creation process. The why discovery process starts with looking back in your life and identifying specific occasions, specific stories, that stand out for you, perhaps particular moments that make you feel proud. They need to be specific stories, because when they are specific in terms of particular times, people, or places in your life, then that’s what triggers an emotion. We are emotional animals. The whole principle of starting with why is based on the biology of how we’re made up as human beings, how our brains are made up. When we work with that biology, then it tends to be quite extraordinary.
So the why discovery process is about identifying those key stories that have triggered emotion in our life. When we identify lots of stories, themes start to emerge which are common across several stories. Of those themes, the one thing that rises to the top then is the root of your why. That is the basic process, but because it comes from your past, it’s not aspirational. Because it comes from your past, it is authentic and anyone hearing that why who knows you will understand how it fits as your signature, as your fingerprint. It will feel authentic, and when it feels authentic it breeds trust and loyalty. That’s the why discovery process in a nutshell.
Chantal: For anyone that hasn’t actually read Find Your Why as yet, I just want to reiterate that the steps that are outlined in the book are very practical. Literally, you can go through yourself and you can work this out. And not only that, but I love that you dive into quite a lot of examples and you talk about really discovering those stories from your past. You give some great examples in the book, so if you haven’t read it, guys, please make sure that you do check it out and go through that process. Peter, once our listeners have gone through and they have identified their why, what’s the next step? What do they do from there?
Peter: Well, it’s about living your why. Your why applies to your whole life. It’s really useful at work, but it applies potentially to everything you do. It can act as a filter. Most of us, let’s take work, for example. Most of us go through life pecking around, hoping to find something that we really enjoy or really love. If we’re lucky, we find that particular job. With your why as a single sentence, it can act as a filter for all those potential jobs that you might go after. If it’s in tune with your why, you know that if you take on that job you’re going to find something that you love.
If you’ve already got a particular job, then knowing your why helps you to build a deeper relationship with the work that you do. When you build that deeper relationship, you have a greater understanding of the contribution and the impact that you make in the lives of others. That, at the end of the day, helps you go home feeling much more fulfilled by the work that you do.
If you’ve got a business, then you know your why as a business, then it can act as a strategic decision making tool. It can be the first filter for every decision you make as a business because if you make decisions that are in tune with your why, then it will help to build trust and loyalty. If, however, you’re attracted to certain projects or whatever that you realise are not in tune with your why, then you know that that’s not a good route to take because it will just take away from the trust and loyalty that people feel towards you and your business.
This why is a very simple idea, but it is hugely powerful, and a why statement, as we call it, is in the form of an action. It’s got a verb in there, so it’s actionable. So we can take action based on that why every day in everything that we choose to say and do.
Chantal: I think I recall reading in the book, Peter, that you said something like going through the exercise and finding your why can take anything from, I think you said six minutes to six hours. It was this really wide range. The reason that I tapped on that is because I think if we put ourselves in the shoes of a gym owner or a studio owner who wants to go through this exercise themselves and with their employees, then I can see them being able to allocate and set aside that time to do the exercise. What I’m wondering is whether or not you would think that doing this exercise with our clients, if we had a close-knit community group, if that could also be beneficial to the connection that we have with our clients in our facilities. Do you think so?
Peter: Yeah, absolutely. I think what we need to remember about our why discovery and individual why discovery is quite personal in the sense that, first of all, it’s a choice to choose to discover your why. We can’t tell people to go off and discover their why. They have to feel ready for it. When you do start down this why discovery journey, then you are sharing some of your most meaningful stories and memories. So you need to feel safe and able to share those stories with whoever is helping you discover your why.
That’s an important point too, Chantal. It’s much easier, in fact, we’d say it’s essential, to have help to discover your why, to have someone who can listen objectively to your stories and help identify the themes that start to emerge from those stories, without bringing any judgement or preconceived ideas to the conversation. This is the reason that we suggest that one’s own partner, or family, don’t actually make good partners to help you discover your why.
Actually, coming back to your question of a close-knit group of friends, if it is close-knit and people feel they can trust one another, then yes. They can help one another to discover their why. In fact, we’ve run sessions where we have groups of up to 100 people, or even more, where we train people to help one another discover their why. Well, we like to think of ourselves not so much as a self help movement, but more like a help others movement. I love your idea, because it’s got the potential of creating a bit more of that help others movement, where we’re helping one another to give us this gift, and it is a gift, of knowing your why and being able to put it into a single sentence.
Chantal: Yeah, I absolutely love that, Peter, because as fitness professionals we are entering this era where it’s no longer enough for us just to simply provide a gym service and have someone come into the facility, train, and then walk back out again. Quite often, now what we’re looking at is a far more holistic offering, a far more well-rounded communication and relationship with our customers.
Therefore, that’s why it popped into my head that perhaps this is something that, in the right environment, for the right gym owners, this could be something that they could offer as part of that overall package when they’re saying, “Yeah, we are going to connect with you both inside the gym when you’re coming and doing workouts, as well as having a look at what’s going on at home, in your nutrition, in your mindset, and all those type of things.” For me, this feels like a really beautiful connection piece for gym owners to be able to connect with their customers, so thank you for going into that.
Now, is there any … We have a little segment that we finish off all of our interviews with, and it’s called Fit Bizpiration. Fit Bizpiration is really about just any last tips that you’d like to leave with our listeners when it comes to finding their why or putting their why into action.
Peter: Okay. Well, first of all, if you’re going to go down the journey of finding your why you have to be ready to be vulnerable. Let me explain about that, because some people might hear the word “vulnerable” and think that’s a weakness. No. When we’re willing to share of ourselves and be vulnerable, it’s actually a huge strength. Taking this to a higher level, some of the greatest leaders that I’ve worked with … I served for 25 years in the military, for example. Some of the greatest leaders I came across were those who were willing to share of themselves and to let you in and to be vulnerable. Sometimes, that included admitting that they didn’t know the answer.
So why discovery, if you want to get the most out of it, be ready to share of yourself with your chosen partner who’s going to help you through, because the more you share, the more you’re going to get out of this why discovery. And the more you get out of this why discovery, the better you’ll be able to represent that why in a why statement, and the more you’ll be able to use it on a day-to-day basis. So be willing to be vulnerable and to share is the first top tip I’ve got.
I think then, when you’ve discovered your why and you go on to use it, then you can start using it right now, even if it’s not perfect, if it’s not in its final form. Once you’ve got a first draught of your why, you can get it into action. You can get it into action by using it every day just in the conversations you have, the work that you do. Find a connection to your why, because when you start thinking like this, you’ll build those connections.
As you build those connections through the work that you do and the relationships you have, the more you’ll feel fulfilled by everything that you say and do, and it will guide you down your path, whether it’s in life generally or indeed your business or your chosen work. It’s not a case of waiting around until it’s perfect. When you’ve got your why statement, just the draught, you can get going right now and start living it by being it on a daily basis.
Chantal: That’s amazing. Thank you so much, Peter. I would like to finish off today’s show with a quote. The quote is from you. I heard you say this, and immediately it hit me quite hard because a large part of what I do is present, and I host this show, and I immediately thought about this for myself. Then I thought, “This is relevant. This quote is relevant for every single one of us because as fitness professionals working out in the market, we are either owners or managers or personal trainers or group fitness instructors.”
I want you to listen to this quote, everyone, and just think about it in terms of the way that you actually connect with people every single time you talk to one of your customers or every single time you stand up in front of a group fitness class. This is what you said, Peter. “If you see or hear a presentation by someone who is charismatic, you leave the room thinking about them. But if you see a presentation by someone who is inspiring, you leave the room thinking about yourself.” I absolutely love that quote, Peter, and I want to thank you so much for … I saw that on your website, and right away that just hit me because I thought, “We really need to think about the impact that we have, not on how our presentations or our conversations make us look and how they make us feel, but the impact that it’s having on other people.”
Peter: Absolutely. I would add that the last bit of that quote, actually, inspiration, people leave the room thinking about themselves and the possibility it ignites in them. That’s the thing. When I stand up and speak or run a workshop, I really don’t mind if people don’t remember me when they’ve left the room. What I’m more interested in is, are they starting to reflect on themselves and the possibility that whatever I’ve said has ignited in them? That’s my definition of inspiration.
Chantal: Yeah, I think that’s something that we can all absolutely think about, and how that applies to our role in the industry. Peter, look, it really was such an honour to have you, as I said. I know you are travelling the world, it’s an incredibly busy time for you, and we are so, so grateful for you taking the time and coming on to The Fitness Business podcast to talk about finding our why. So thank you.
Peter: You’re most welcome. I really enjoyed the conversation, Chantal, and when I come out to Australia again then I hope I can come along to a fitness class or a run with you and your husband or whatever you’re doing. It would be great fun.
Chantal: Yeah, I’m going to find a mountain, and we are going running.
Chantal: Although it might be a little bit harder to do that in Australia than in the UK, but we’ll make it happen.
Peter: Excellent. I look forward to it.
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