Investigating Motivations

Getting to the heart of the matter

By Bill Hatton

Why are you here?
No, why are you really here?
No, why are you really really here?

At the June 2-6 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego, speaker Rich Fernandez encouraged the thousand-plus- person audience to dig into their motivations for attending. Once you know your motivations, it’s easier to figure out your goals. (Rich is VP of learning and development at a leadership and wellness consultant firm, Search Inside Yourself Institute. They do leadership training, specifically, mindfulness and emotional intelligence training.)

The exercise went like this: You breathe quietly, and then you ask yourself why you are here, and you answer it … then you dig deeper, and ask yourself if there is another reason. And repeat.

It may sound a little crunchy, but it’s useful: The exercise does involve a series of important questions. When you talk about corporate responsibility and sustainability, why are you here? No, why are you really here? No, why are you really really here?

During the exercise, I found myself not so much answering for myself, but imagining all the possible answers others were giving about their motivations.

Why are you here? I imagined here would be the most idealistic answers: Change the world. Be part of a movement that’s transforming business and creating a more responsible, more sustainable future. See if there are different ways of running an economy. Save the planet.

Why are you really here? I imagined here would be more professional answers: Build my professional network. Catch up with my peers. Develop new contacts. Get leads. Learn new ideas. Hear the latest trends. Bring new ideas, new best practices, and new contacts back home. Be surrounded by people who are as committed to CR and sustainability as I am.

Why are you really really here? I imagined here would be the most personal answers: Recharge. Renew. Rebuild. Meet some new friends. Catch up with some old friends. Eat some ribs and corn bread. See and be seen; raise a personal profile in the industry. Immerse myself in those who think along similar lines and have similar commitments.

That’s at least how I imagined others’ answering those questions. As a member of the press, I was present in a different capacity: I was there to learn the latest trends in the field, make contacts, and find stories. And I was really there because I find conferences such as Sustainable Brands to be one of the best ways to gauge the state-of-an-industry. And I was really really there because San Diego’s Mission Bay … is just not the worst place to do all of the above.

In any case, it’s a useful exercise to do. Understanding motives helps us understand what steps to take next. What motivates you about CR and sustainability? What’s it really about for you? OK, now what is it really really about?

Posted August 8, 2014 in 25115