I recently attended my first Nexstar Network event — the 2017 Leadership Spotlight in Houston. Though I don’t own my own business, I still walked away inspired and motivated by the energy and passion every presenter possessed and conveyed to attendees.

There were countless takeaways from the two-day event, but the underlying theme of the conference was that no matter what your position is within your company — whether you’re the owner, manager, sales person, or boots-on-the-ground tech — if you are without a “why” in your career, then you’re just treading water.


Find your why

Jack Tester, Nexstar Network’s president and CEO and the subject of this issue’s PM Profile, opened the conference on March 16 by talking about the importance of knowing your why.

“Your why is your fuel,” he says. “It’s the energy of your leadership.”

But what is a why, where do you find it, and how does it help?

Your why is, simply put, your motivation. It is a clearly defined reason for doing the things you do in your business, and it is the foundation of your company. Without it, being extraordinary is going to be nearly impossible.

“I think we miss the question. We — I — miss this question,” Tester adds. “This is the most important question we’re going to cover here.”

Your why should not be confused with your goals, however. Goals are specific things you can aim for and accomplish; your why is what drives you to accomplish those goals.

Finding your true why — which could be anything from wanting to make as much money as possible to leaving a legacy, building something to pass onto your children, supporting your family, or making a difference in your community — isn’t necessarily intuitive for everyone.

For those of you struggling to find your why, an article in Forbes magazine suggests asking yourself four questions: What makes you come alive, what are your innate strengths, where do you add the greatest value, and how will you measure your life?

When you can answer these questions, you have your why. But what do you do with it now?


Motivating others with your why

Finding what motivates you is not enough. You also need to understand that your motivation for being extraordinary is not the same as your managers’ motivations, employees’ motivations, or even your business partner’s motivation, yet it is the foundation upon which your company’s success rests, and it can be used to motivate others on your team.

Keith Mercurio, Nexstar’s director of training, points out that expecting your team members to be motivated by your why is unreasonable.

“How will your why empower the why of the people on your team? Take a moment and consider it,” says Mercurio. “If you’re struggling to answer this question, you should be, because the truth is, your why doesn’t matter to the people on your team.”

Instead, use your why to be extraordinary, encourage others to define their why, and, if possible, help your employees use their whys to become extraordinary.

“The question isn’t how does your why empower the why of your people,” Mercurio says. “Rather, I encourage you to consider the question, how would you be if you were being extraordinary every day?”

So, what is your why, and how are you going to use it?