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Herrick’s Highlights: Finding my ‘why’ in Hawaii

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Aside from rubbing elbows with movers and shakers in the industry, I said “aloha” to Keoki, a resident of the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. (Photo: LM Staff)
Aside from rubbing elbows with movers and shakers in the industry, I said “aloha” to Keoki, a resident of the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. (Photo: LM Staff)
Aside from rubbing elbows with movers and shakers in the industry, I said “aloha” to Keoki, a resident of the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. (Photo: LM Staff)
Aside from rubbing elbows with movers and shakers in the industry, I said “aloha” to Keoki, a resident of the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. (Photo: LM Staff)

Don’t adjust your screen. Your regularly scheduled columnist, Seth Jones, asked me to pitch-hit for him this month since I just got back from paradise … literally.

It’s not every day your boss asks you to travel 4,000-plus miles to cover the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Leaders Forum in Maui. But when asked, I jumped at the opportunity.

It was such an exhilarating experience being surrounded by folks in the industry who understand that operating a business is so much more than the day-to-day. Sometimes we get so focused, we don’t have a chance to understand why we do what we do. This hit home for me during the two talks by Paul Epstein, author of The Power of Playing Offense and a former sales executive for the Los Angeles Clippers and San Francisco 49ers.

Epstein, now a consultant, helps operations unlock employees’ potential and reduce attrition. He talked about the power of playing offense and led attendees in an exercise to unlock our purpose.

One silver bullet to rule them all

Playing offense is a critical part of operating in today’s world, Epstein said. Far too many operations play defense instead of offense.

“When playing offense, we play with purpose, we play with passion and we control the terms of our future,” he said.

Playing offense with recruitment and retention is a three-part approach. If you take care of your current employees, they’re more likely to stay and, in turn, will make it easier to recruit more employees.

“The same silver bullet takes care of all three,” he said. “We need to give them a reason to believe we have the greenest grass.”

He encouraged attendees to pay close attention to their operation’s messaging and marketing. He cited a recent study that found 73 percent of consumers will switch to and stick with a brand with a higher purpose. This relates both to selling green industry services and recruiting the next generation into the workforce.

“We as leaders are the tone-setters of culture for our people,” he said. “If we want to attract the person of tomorrow, purpose matters more than ever.”

100,000 hours

Epstein drove home the value of purpose as he led a discussion on discovering our “why,” what gets us out of bed, what impacts and drives our decisions at its root. Epstein stressed how important purpose is to today’s workers.

“The average American works more than 100,000 hours in a lifetime,” he said. “What we choose to do with it is negotiable.”

He asked us if we knew why we do what we do. To help us understand our actions, Epstein led us through an exercise to identify which of his nine “whys” — contribute, trust, make sense, a better way, right way, challenge, mastery, clarify and simplify — we most identify with.

Epstein cited Mark Twain’s remark: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

 The importance of our why

Following a short questionnaire, I learned my why is contribute. A detailed report highlighted the good and bad sides to my why.

For those of you who know me, it’ll probably come as no surprise. Sharing what I learn from conversations and my travels with you is a big motivator for me in my role here at Landscape Management. I hope the content we provide helps you run your business more efficiently and keeps you more informed. I also love to volunteer for several Cleveland-area programs in my free time.

While most of the report didn’t come as a surprise, it gave me a chance to see how my purpose fits into our team at LM. It also gives me a great road map to better fine-tune my focus to maximize my contributions.

Our why, Epstein said, is our rocket fuel for our daily lives — it’s what gets us going and keeps us going. Where could you take your business if you tapped into this power?

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