Understanding your “Why”

By Scott Westerman
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

If you’ve been a parent for any length of time, you’ve endured the “why” phase of childhood; that time when your kid continually asks “why” in response to everything you say. Eventually, we’ve all probably reverted to, “because I said so.”

When it comes to the fundamental things you believe and the work you’ve chosen to do, the importance of understanding the “why” becomes paramount.

Simon Sinek‘s book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, posits that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Ponder these questions:

  • Why do you do what you do for a living?
  • Why do you follow your routines?
  • Why do you spend time with specific people?
  • Why are you attached to certain paradigms?
  • What are your currently most excited about.. and why?

When I coach entrepreneurs about their start-ups, I’m much more interested in why they chose their focus than in what it is. In my own experience, things that don’t connect with my “why” don’t hold my attention when the going gets tough.

As Henry Ford put it, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

Think about your “whys”. It may be hard work. But it can also be life changing.

Bonus: Hear Simon Sinek on Episode 107 of The Learning Leader Podcast.