If you haven’t watched Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” Ted Talk, then you need to. In it, he outlines why consumers buy – and (spoiler alert) it’s not about the ‘What’ or the ‘How’, it’s about the ‘Why’. And much like our decisions to purchase things, our potential impact and longevity in giving back and making a difference also stems from our ‘why’.

Think about it. There are causes around you 24/7 that need support, right? So, how in the end did you choose to support one over the others? It’s all about being led by your, or someone else’s, ‘why’. Let me explain.

One of my friends walks every year for the National MS Society. Another for the March of Dimes. And yet another for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. And while I like to donate and participate in these walks when I can, that’s the extent of my impact. And that’s because they’re not my true causes. They’re not my ‘why’. They’re my friends’ ‘whys’ and that’s because each of them has been hit by those issues in a very personal way.

But. what would happen if I decided to go above and beyond for these causes? What if I wanted to elevate my impact for a cause that didn’t mean as much to me? What if I were to get caught up in someone else’s ‘why’?

At first you might not think that this is a big deal. So what, right? At least you’re making a difference! But, at its core, my efforts wouldn’t be as authentic to who I am and therefore wouldn’t be as impactful because I didn’t believe in the importance of the cause as much as I could. I would have been out of alignment in a way that would result in lower impact and less chance of success. And since I didn’t feel in alignment, I probably wouldn’t continue my advocacy very long.

So, when you’re thinking about focusing on a specific cause and leveling up your impact, make sure that you do some self-exploration first to find your ‘why’. It’s so easy to get caught up with someone else’s — family, friends, co-workers and almost everyone around you is going to have their own cause. Sure, support them however you can, but if you’re ready to level up and create real, lasting impact, then find your true authentic ‘why’ because that will result in the experience being more successful, more rewarding and more sustainable in the long run.

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