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President's Message
Starting With Why

by Jennifer Arnoldi, PharmD, BCPS Clinical Associate Professor, SIUE School of Pharmacy President of ICHP

In November, volunteers and leaders within ICHP met for the annual Leadership Retreat. While this year’s meeting looked different - thanks to the virtual format - it was as productive and energizing as ever. Meeting attendees prepared for the retreat by reading Start with Why by Simon Sinek.1 For those who may be interested in a modern-day CliffsNotes of the book, you could check out Sinek’s TED talk on Youtube ( The main theme of the book is that folks buy into a company or organization based on the strength of the organization’s why; that is, the driving force and passion behind the work that is done. Sinek tells us that too many organizations focus on how they do things (“we’re the best”) or what they provide (“look at all our services”). While those are all useful, relentlessly driving forward without a strong, clear why is like starting out on a road trip without directions. You’ll get somewhere, but it might not be where you intended.

During the retreat, we reminded ourselves of the why of ICHP and kept it in mind as we discussed how to build bridges with various groups: our current members, prospective members, other healthcare professionals, our patients and public, and legislators and their staff. Using breakout rooms, retreat attendees had the opportunity to weigh in on these various topics and recommend new goals and initiatives for ICHP. Many useful ideas came out of our discussions; these have been organized and distributed to the ICHP staff, all Divisions, and some Networks and Committees of ICHP to inform our strategic plan.

I think I can safely say that 2020 was a year that threw us all for a loop. If you find yourself struggling with your personal why, I’d encourage you to carve out some time to reflect. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to do so. You might think of some reflective questions to help you find your own why or get back to the why you feel you’ve lost. Here are some questions to get you started, adapted from Find Your Why, by Simon Sinek.3

Who in your life helped make you who you are today? Write down a specific time when they exemplified what you admire most about them, whether they were interacting with you or someone else.
Think of a day when you left work and thought, “I would have done that for free.” What happened to make you say that? How could you feel that way again?
What has been a pivotal moment in your life – what happened to make you realize nothing would ever be the same again?

Describe a time when you unselfishly helped someone else; when was there a time that made you feel unbelievably good and that you did something that mattered?
If you feel comfortable doing so, share your stories with a trusted partner, friend, or colleague. Ask them to help you interpret your answers to identify some common threads in your experiences. Look for meaning that can help you find your own personal why. Then, keep your why in mind as you pursue opportunities in 2021 and beyond. 

  1. Sinek, Simon. Start with Why. Penguin Books, 2011.
  2. Sinek, Simon. Start With Why – TED Talk Short Edited. YouTube. Published March 3, 2014. Accessed December 13, 2020.
  3. Sinek, Simon. Find Your Why. Portfolio/Penguin Books, 2017.



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