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The Palm Oil issue in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo is complicated. On one hand, the environmental degradation is gobsmacking; there are 1.6 million acres of Oil-Palm plantations where there was once pristine forest abounding with Orang-Utans, Gibbons and Sun Bears. On the other hand, the social benefits of this industry mean paid work, educated children and the wheels of economy grinding forward.

My 16 day trip from the west to the east of Sabah doesn’t equip me with an educated opinion; only a glimpse into the end result of a series of decisions that were made and continue to be made by the powers that be. Decisions which have driven deep change into the cultural, demographical and economical fabric of Sabah.

Debating the reasons those decisions have been made is a can of worms I won’t open here, however, what is certain is that those decisions stem from a complex set of emotional, intellectual and cultural mazes, often layered upon and through each other like a jungle vine living symbiotically with an ancient tree.

When designing communication strategies for our clients, we invite the leaders to take us on a whirlwind tour of their businesses. We get to see their business in a snapshot of time; we can see their sales figures, staff turnover, profit, client base and social media metrics, but what we search for is an understanding of why the decisions that lead them to where they are were made; because at the root of action is what you believe. And, if we are to create new powerful actions, we need to know what belief systems currently exist to know the potential.

So, what do you believe? Do you believe you deserve success? Do you believe your team are a means to an end? Do you believe in partnerships? Do you believe you need to have all the answers? Do you believe integrity is only for your clients? Do you believe in young people? Do you believe in yourself?

When traversing the mountainous terrain of an established company we find all sorts of things; unique relationships to money, fear, disbelief, entrapment, lack of skills, undisclosed motives and uncertainty, all perfectly normal t-intersections on the way to business success.

I believe it is not what we do at those junctures but why that defines us. It is the why that establishes strong corporate cultures, makes our companies flourish or die, makes our teams happy or exhausted and makes our clients come back or go elsewhere.

Unlock the why to really make the difference. Because, quite frankly, it is the only thing that really matters.

Happy New Year.