How-To vs How-Come

When I was a kid, the hardest part of achieving a goal was getting started. What made it hard was accessing the information to understand “how-to” do anything from start a business to how to train for a marathon. Today, we can now find everything and anything I need to know with a simple internet search. What we have the most trouble with today is follow-through. And mastering follow-through is less about “how-to” and more about “how-come.”

During the years when access to information was slim, the need for a “How-To” with just about everything was constant. How to run a business, how to train for a race, how to invest money, and on and on. The people and organizations with access to the information were the ones with strategic advantage. Finding or creating the right how-to was in high demand and helped individuals and companies stay competitive.

Today, however, getting access to how-to is simply the price of admission for beginning any goal. How-to no longer separates a person or institution from their competition. Getting started is now the easy part. And, with this incredible access to information, what now becomes the hardest thing to do is continue on a path when things get tough, when new how-to ideas continue to pop up, and when the outcome is less than certain.

Today, competitive advantage for individuals and organizations is in creating the underlying will-power to continue on when others would give-up, in creating the commitment we took for granted 30 years ago. Instead of telling someone how to do something, our real challenge is identifying compelling reasons why it is vitally important for someone to do something and in harnessing the motivation that will be needed to overcome distractions and endless bright and shiny objects that lead us astray.

The majority of entrepreneurs fail within three years, we struggle to lose weight, quit smoking, consistently saving money, or following through on our weight-loss plan and our businesses are plagued by high-turnover, low engagement, and constant change. These are not idea problems, these are commitment problems. Answering “how-come” includes knowing why the goal or task is important to a bigger picture or simply understanding what will become better when the outcome is achieved. It is preparing for the mountain before we begin to climb.

We have Google, Yahoo, and You-tube to help us with understanding how to get something done, but we have nowhere we can search for a compelling explanation for Why we should keep going when things get tough, why we should keep working for a company whose path seems to have strayed from our own, and “how-come” we should continue towards a goal we no longer even think is a good idea. We have to do this ourselves, and it has to be asked BEFORE we start.

Considering “how-come” can prepare us for when things get difficult, when the plan changes, or when we realize we are going to have to try on a couple different “how-tos” to get the job done. If we consider “how-come” before we even set out on the task, we might just find ourselves much more prepared for the real challenges of follow-through, commitment, and bright-shiny object chasing that is our current world.

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