Simon Sinek frequently talks and writes about “Finding Your Why” to discover what your purpose is. I find this very interesting and inspiring and have given the book to many of my clients to discover their why.
Starting my company, Aspiration Catalyst, came directly from my why and has brought it to life in vivid color through the work that we do. Aspiring to help others by sharing knowledge, experience, and proven pathways to growth and success is something that is innate. I just love to help.
In fact, looking back over my life, this is a quality I have always possessed. I have a brother and a sister who are younger than me. Growing up as their big sister, I felt it was my duty to be the benefactor of the wisdom I had collected with my few more years on the earth. My dad used to call me Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip; the sign over her head read: “The doctor is in.” Apparently, I channeled my inner Lucy frequently.
Over the years, I have found myself in positions designed to help others—while not intentionally seeking them out—it would just sort of happen. While in high school, I was in student government and started and co-led the pom pon squad. In college, I was in student government and very involved in leading many different things, such as the student ambassador program on campus. Again, I didn’t necessarily seek out leadership positions, but people often would come to me and say, "We see you as being someone who would be really great in this role." I think this was due to the natural mentoring that they would see me doing by reaching out to lend a hand to help others along the way.
During my professional career, I was tapped on the shoulder in the first two years of my selling career to interview for a leadership position. It was unheard of at that time, as most of the leaders had been with the company longer, had prior experience, and knew a lot more than me! I was also the only woman who was selected to interview for the role.
Needless to say, I did not get the job. But, a few months later they asked me to start up a new sales division for the company. I think this was the beginning of my official career in coaching, because that's how I approached running my business: In my division, I would focus on the people, set a clear vision for success, build a plan to execute.
At the same time, I learned to get to know each team member in terms of what really mattered to them. Whatever they wanted to achieve, I wanted to help them get there too. I would help them link their personal goals to our team goals. We would spend time focusing on what was good in them and help bring it out even more. We developed action plans to work on the areas that they wanted to develop further.
In many ways, this journey to mentor others and help them achieve success is one I have been on my entire life.
When I decided to start Aspiration Catalyst®, I had started many new verticals and departments within big companies and always had an itch to do it myself. I wanted to run my own business as a true entrepreneur.
Ironically, I couldn't figure out what I should do. What should my business be?
Somehow it translated into, "If I'm going to run my own business, it's going to be a retail store," which I have zero expertise in. What would I sell? Then I thought, “Maybe I should run a restaurant.” I had a little more experience there from college, where I worked for a restaurant for three years and did everything from bartending, food and cocktail serving, and even a stint as assistant manager. I loved that job, but the lifestyle wasn’t for me.
Then one day it finally hit me: I should run a service-based business that could help people get better by sharing the knowledge I've gathered. I could help many businesses and people achieve the goals that they want and grow. After all, I believe everyone should be able to achieve their goals and dreams and it’s possible with a vision, a plan, a little help, and continued effort.
I was lucky to work with some executive coaches in the past who were very inspiring, and I knew that would be a good path for me. Next, I had to determine who I would help. Who would I be working with? When I started, the answer to this question was quite broad: I said, “I can help anyone.” And maybe I could on some level, but that doesn't really scale all that well.
So, I focused on working with sales organizations, which is a big part of our work. And one day one of my best friends said to me,
"I always thought that you would help women."
Duh! Of course, I am going to help women. I was the first woman sales manager at my technology firm, and I know how hard it is to be the only or one of the few women in the room. Many industries are challenged at achieving gender diversity, such as high tech, financial services, and so many others still have so far to go in this area. I mentored many women over the course of my F500 career. I loved helping women throughout my career, and this is a big focus of our practice.
That's what led us to where we are at today:
We help women break through glass ceilings and sales leaders to thrive by building excuse-proof, goal-crushing teams.
Our clients leverage their unique talents to achieve success. In order to help women break through the glass ceiling, we have to help women move forward with the help of the men—so we partner together effectively to create more diverse organizations and leverage the talents and gifts of everyone. By doing that, we all win and achieve a lot more success.
That’s My Why. What About Yours?
It’s OK if your why isn’t obvious to you right now. One way to proceed is to take the Clifton Strengths assessment. It’s an excellent place to begin because it grounds you with a sense of what you have talent in and usually aligns with what you also have a passion for. It identifies the areas where you may have the best opportunity to contribute. Suddenly, the world will feel much easier to navigate because you will have clarity on where you can provide the most value, which is leveraging your unique talent, and it feels good when you get to do what you do best every day.
Many times, we get stuck in a rut and feel like we have no choice. That's not true, but it is a story that we tell ourselves. When you remove all of the filters, all of the blinders, all of the restrictions or constrictions, then you get to dream and make your path whatever you want. We help people discover the great answer to: What is your Why? Where is your passion? If you could spend your day any way you wanted, where would that be?
So, what actually matters most to you?
If you’re challenged to find your larger purpose and then live it every day, an identification of your strengths can be an excellent place to begin. Aspiration Catalyst® can set those wheels in motion with a strategy session.
Contact Kim Svoboda at 773.909.4546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.