Finding Your Why: Part 2

Jann Freed Leading Comments

This post is written for everyone who wants to enjoy getting out of bed in the morning.  This series is based on the books by Simon Sinek:  Start With Why and Finding Your Why.  After having the opportunity to see Sinek in person in New York in January, I am inspired to share what I learned from the conversation I witnessed and from what I have learned from reading his books. 

This post is Part 2 of a several part series.  To summarize Part 1, Sinek says it is easy to explain what we do and most of us can explain how we do it.  But few of us can explain why we do it.  While we may think we are doing what we are doing for money, Sinek emphasizes that money does not inspire us.  “WHY goes much deeper to understanding what motivates and inspires us.  Why does your company exist?  Why did you get out of bed this morning?  And why should anyone care?”

“The WHY is a tool that can bring clarity to that which is fuzzy and make tangible that which is abstract.  The WHY can help set a vision to inspire people.  The WHY can guide us to act with purpose, on purpose.”

According to Sinek, there are three steps to start finding (discovering) your WHY.

Step 1:  Gather stories and share them.

Step 2:  Identify themes.

Step 3:  Draft and refine a WHY statement. 

Put the draft statement into this format where the first blank is the contribution and the second blank is the impact:

TO ________________ SO THAT ____________________________.

Since I have been thinking about purpose and meaning for several years now, I have been writing and rewriting my personal mission statement.  My personal mission has been:

“To continue to learn so that I can share what I am learning with others.”

How do I do this? Here are a few of the ways I execute my mission statement:

  • Teach a graduate leadership course
  • Conduct leadership development and change management corporate workshops
  • Non-financial retirement planning
  • Blog about what I am learning
  • Executive and personal development coaching
  • Write articles for Training Magazine and a few local publications

After reading Sinek’s books, I have revised my mission statement into a WHY statement:

“To help people lead their best life so the rest of life can be the best of life.”

The main difference is how my purpose now has a focus on my contribution and impact on others.  My next step is to test this out with friends and work with a partner to fine tune this even more.  Sinek advocates working with a partner–someone beyond one’s family members—who can be objective and dig deeper into the stories they are hearing for the first time.

Sinek asks us to “trust the process.  It works.”

Stories: 

  • What are the specific experiences and people in our life who have shaped who you are today? 
  • What are the five stories you consider the most impactful on your life? 
  • Of these five stories, what are three you believe to have influenced you the most?
  • Who might be a partner with whom you can work to discover your WHY?

In Part 3, I will share some of the stories that have had the most impact on me and how they helped me find my WHY.