It's been said that, "Before someone can care about what you do, they need to know why you care about what you do."
The people we seek to influence, and impact, need to understand our motivation, drive and reasoning behind what we stand for in order to engage with us in meaningful ways.
As people, we connect to someone's purpose and passion sometimes more than we care about how they do their work. Investors want to understand the founder's vision and mission for the business before they'll invest. Employers want to know why you're passionate about your work before they'll hire you, and professors often feel more inclined to support a student who shows interest in the lesson rather than just completes assignments.
Wherever you are in your transition from a military to civilian career, emphasizing your "why" -- the reasons behind your goals, actions and focus -- will draw others closer to you so they can help and support you.
Job Seekers: As a job seeker, it's not enough to apply for a job where your skills or interests align and assume you're qualified. Employers want to know why you're passionate about that job, that company and that industry. They look for you to be specific in communicating your vision and goals, and how you align your past experience with the opportunities afforded by the open job.
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When you match up your past with what you're capable of delivering in the future, and layer on top of that your desire for meaning and impact in that specific role, you make a compelling case to the employer.
Veteran Entrepreneurs: As you seek to find business partners, investors, shareholders and employees for your new business, you'll hear the "why" question often! Those around you will want to understand why this business idea speaks to you, why you are worthy of an investment (of time, resources or money) and why you see success with this venture. Your employees will also care about your passion and purpose, as they align your business dreams with their own.
Student Veterans: As you navigate post-military education, you'll often get asked, "Why did you choose this school? Why are you pursuing this degree? Why do you want a leadership role on campus? Why are you interested in this internship?" and so on.
Professors, business leaders, fellow students and your advisers want to understand your motivation and goals so they can best support and encourage you as you (eventually) leave the college or university setting and enter the job market.
Instead of leading with your "what" (job title) or your "how" (the work you do), consider opening conversations, job interviews and networking meetings with a focus on why you do what you do. What drives you? What are you passionate about? Why is this opportunity right for you? Why should I help you?
When you focus on the "why" first, you make the job easier for the other person: They can fill in the gaps where your skills or experience may fall short, because your passion is clear and strong. They can see other opportunities to get you to your dream. They will feel incentivized to help you succeed and accomplish your goals because they are clear on your intention and internal drivers.
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