What’s in Your Top Box?

It’s a question I heard recently from Bill Hybels at the 2015 Global Leadership Summit. Bob Buford was asked the same question from a high powered strategic planner he hired as he was considering how to move from success to significance in the second half of his life.

I’ve asked that question of myself more than once during my 35 year career as a business owner, employee and leader.

It’s a question that each one of us needs to ask ourselves. Whether in our business, our home, our ministry, or in any role where people look to us to bring a sense of purpose to our mission.

A simple parallel may be considered as you envision an old, deeply rooted tree. The root system represents our core values, beliefs and mission. Who we are and why we exist. The trunk, our operating principles. How we do things. The branches represent the culture or behaviors that exist in our organization. The fruit – The Results. Those results ultimately reflect back to the roots; our mission and the WHY behind doing what we do.

Besides coaching and consulting with CEO’s and business owners I’ve had the privilege of owning and leading a small business that provides our guests with some of the best food you can pack in a glass jar.  Now in our 19th year in operation and located in the village of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, Intercourse Canning Company (ICC) offers a seemingly countless variety of canned edibles. You’ll find pickled vegetables, jams, jellies, relishes, salsas, sauces, fruits, dressings and more on our shelves. You name it. That’s the real “fruit” of the labor of many hard working folks and originating with our Creator. The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are obvious. The WHY? Not so much.  You might say, “To feed people.” I say it’s more than that. It’s to care for those, while on vacation, who are looking for a place to enjoy themselves and disconnect from the pressures of life. Yes, they purchase a specially crafted and unique food but really it’s about the experience they have when they walk through our front doors. To graze on incredible samples of a variety of goodies; to see how canning was done the old fashioned way and learn how it all started. Our team members are charged with the mission to make the experience a special and memorable one. That’s the “Why.” To create a moment that they’ll talk about and enjoy for quite some time and when chowing down on the “fruit of our labor” they smile about the respite from life during their visit.

Hybels notes that Howard Schultz, who built Starbucks, challenges his team to remember that “we don’t just sell coffee; we provide a third place in people’s lives. A critically important space between their work and home for people to gather their thoughts or gather with friends. This is for sure. Our why is so much deeper than selling coffee and it’s worth giving our best efforts to.”

Reflecting on your unique why will reveal that whatever you have in your “Top Box” is either fueling you to more dizzying heights of significance or forcing you to re-think exactly why it is that you do what you do. If it’s just for money I challenge every one of you to go deeper.

I want to ask you something again, and depending on your answer, may not only change your life but countless others you serve, for an eternity. What is in your top box?

Steve Adams

Sr. Business & Life Coach, Board Chairman & Entrepreneur


  • Joe Sharp

    I couldn’t agree more Steve! I have spent hours drilling into the WHY’s with our clients for years 🙂 – Joe