This past Tuesday evening, I walked into The Concordia MBA class in San Antonio and was greeted by smiling faces and excited students (OK, I know that sounds like a plug, but bear with me on this). The professor (not me) began the class with the question, "Why are we here?" and the class responded, "To make a difference!" I was so happy...it was such a natural response for them (they actually begin every class with this opening) and very heartfelt. I followed it up with "What does that mean for each of you?" and the conversation flowed from there.
I have shared that story many times over the past few days, and the reaction is always the same..."That's very cool!" I agree - I think there is such a strong "coolness" factor in beginning the class that way because it reminds our students of the purpose of why we do what we do. The Concordia MBA was designed for students who want to make an impact...who want to lead successful and meaningful lives...who want to make a difference. This seemingly simple exercise (some may even call it corny) sets the tone for the entire class session (and entire program) that reminds both teacher and student that the learning that is going to take place has a larger purpose than a grade or a diploma - the learning is happening so that the world can be a better place.
So when have you recently asked yourself or your colleagues the questions of why you or they are here (wherever that "here" might be)? And of course the followup question needs to be "and why have I/we responded the way I/we did?" Digging into the WHY of what we do is incredibly important, becasue it gives meaning to the WHAT of our daily lives. Simon Sinek's book Start with Why is an incredible read as it helps the reader get a better grasp of the importance of asking the WHY question as well as tools to help move the process forward (thanks to Concordia alumnus Austin Smith for reminsing me of this book yesterday). Similar to the post of several weeks ago of getting everyone to understand and work from the same theory, getting people to operate from the same WHY may be even more important. The WHY behind the WHAT provides energy and excitement into our daily lives.
I recently have had the chance to consider the WHY behind what I do on a daily basis, and I came to the understanding that my role is to create an environment in which Concordia faculty, students, and community partners can come together to learn and put into practice ideas that create better organizations. Whether that happens in a classroom, or in a work environment, or through promoting the annual Ethics in Business Awards which supports The Samaritan Center in Austin, or simply having a dialogue with a friend, at the end of the day I believe that better organizations create a better community...better communities provide a place where people are more free to live an abundant life...and ini living that abundant life the Kingdom of God is made manifest througout that community. I like that WHY...and I'll think of that as I continue my work today.