Discover Your Why and the Power of Playing Offense at Leaders Forum - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Discover Your Why and the Power of Playing Offense at Leaders Forum

If you are an executive in the landscape industry, you don’t want to miss this year’s Leaders Forum and keynote speaker from Feb. 1-4, 2023, in Maui, Hawaii.

Not only will you have the opportunity to network with your peers, but Paul Epstein, chief purpose advisor for the WHY Institute, will also lead two sessions where he will share stress-tested secrets to combat burnout and inspire teams.

In today’s business climate, there’s a massive amount of burnout and Epstein argues this is a byproduct of forgetting why you do what you do. His session will reconnect you to that inner fire.

“When we truly do believe in what we do, we are happier,” Epstein says. “We are more fulfilled. We’re a better team member. We’re a better leader. We’re a bigger contributor inside of our industry. We bring our best self when we are connected to our why.”

Paul Epstein

He believes that when you win the inside game of self-discovery, it inevitably leads to winning the outside game of reaching your external goals. Understanding who you are also allows you to form better relationships with other people. He says that relationships are key in helping take care of your employees, who also might be burned out in certain ways.

“I think that’s a leader’s responsibility,” Epstein says. “To show that genuine care and build a foundational relationship with each person so that when negative things like burnout come up, we’re not questioning their lack of effort or intention from a bad place. We’re actually concerned about the person and saying, ‘What do I do? How can I show up better for them?’”

As for inspiring your team, Epstein will lead attendees on how to reinforce their core values, so they are not just words on a wall but behavioral.

Another one of the takeaways Epstein will explore is the fact that purpose is often misdefined.

“We think of purpose as this North Star,” Epstein says. “And the challenge with a North Star is we don’t know how to apply it on Monday morning. So for me, purpose is not about a bumper sticker. It’s more about a 365 way of life. So as a business, how do we show up? How do we operate? How is it informing our behaviors? How are we making decisions differently because of knowing what our greater why or purpose is? How are we taking actions differently after the event versus before the event?”   

Studies have found that 64 percent of purpose-driven professionals have higher fulfillment at work and purpose-driven employees are 125 percent more productive.

He will also explore the benefits of being a company that operates on the offensive versus the defensive.

“Defense has a mindset of playing not to lose and so they never bet big,” Epstein says. “They’re never going to fail big, but they’re also never going to win big. They’re just paralyzed by their indecision. Offense has a mindset of playing to win. Do they always win? No. But again, they’re always making things happen. They always have this positive energy and spirit that tomorrow is going to be a better day.”

He says that being on the offensive also means taking control of your future versus letting external circumstances dictate how your team responds.

In a separate session, Epstein will also lead attendees through an assessment to discover their why, which will help you find your passion, confidence and purpose. In order to effectively lead others, you have to lead yourself first.

Epstein says when discovered his personal why it changed his life. His why is ‘contribute’ and he measures his success by if he is making an impact and leaving people in places better than he found them.

“In sports terms, I just try to develop winning streaks of purpose,” Epstein says. “It’s a winning streak because we won the day, and it happened one decision and action at a time. It’s because I anchored everything to my greater why of contribution and making that impact.”

As the why coach for the San Francisco 49ers, he helped people find purpose in their work. He says the outcome of the process is often seeing where to close the gap and find ways to make an employee’s job suit their strengths and passions more. Epstein says if you are worried that employees will leave after discovering their why, they were never there to start with.

“If it’s about having the right people on the bus, this elevates the people that really want to be on the bus to now they’re showing up even better,” Epstein says. “If a small percentage, 10 percent, say this is not the bus for me, that actually is a net positive because they weren’t really showing up as their best self. Now you find a right person to be on the bus and that, to me, is a net positive.”

He says discovering your why will allow you to know where you perform the best, but also what causes you to shut down. He encourages leaders to do this why assessment with all of their employees as it helps them know how to better interact with people who have different inner motivations.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.