Why Do You Do What You Do?

I recently came across the above TED Talk in which Simon Sinek tells us about the importance of starting with WHY — and not starting with what or how you do something.

I started to think about how this idea applies to police work.

Most citizens can articulate what police do and even how they do it (after all, the media is filled with examples of both the what and the how of policing)!

As Sinek tells us, it is the WHY that counts — your purpose, cause, beliefs and why you exist — why you do what you do.

My sense is that good cops know the WHY. Because it is the WHY that gets them up after a day’s rest and gives them the inspiration and passion to continue. If a leader does not know why they do what they do, watch out!

In my own case, my “why” was the feeling that I was truly helping and protecting people, fixing the problems that arose in their lives, and demonstrating the very “goodness” of our nation and society; modeling the values in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. I felt what I did each day (especially as a leader) was a special and noble calling.

What I did day in and day out really mattered! (See my earlier blog on this.)

The first guideline in the PERF document on use of force is that the “sanctity of human life should be at the heart of everything an agency does.”

That is a WHY. People’s lives matter, all people, and, therefore, it is important to be controlled and legal in the use of force and treat all persons with dignity and respect.

WHY do you do what you do? Can you articulate your why to those whom you serve? Policing is not just a job, it is a calling. What does that mean to you?

Please post your WHY!


For more, read Simon Sinek’s book Starting With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.