Finding your ‘why’ can be one of the most profound discoveries of your lifetime. Many people never take the time to discover it and for others, it’s obvious. For most of us, we must think back, dig into our pasts, look for lightbulb moments and patterns. But when we uncover our why, it’s as if the clouds part, the sun breaks through, and we couldn’t stop ourselves, our businesses, and our lives from soaring high, even if we tried.
We take the idea of your ‘why’ from Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. As always, we’ve modified the process for business owners.
Your why is a statement of your core passion. Your why might be a phrase or a sentence or two that describe the emotional core of why you do what you do, the driving force in your life.
You probably started your business based on a personal desire, trait, or skill. However, there’s likely a deeper reason behind all the energy, time, and sometimes money you pour into your business. If we ask you why you are in business, not unlike most of us business owners, you’d likely say, ‘to make money’ or ‘to be my own boss’ or ‘I’m good at this or at that and I wanted to do it my way.’ Those, however, would not be your why. Those are your motivations. Why you started your business is not your why. Your business has meaning for you beyond just making money and it is connected to your personal desires, personality, and talent. That’s where finding your why comes in.
Your Company’s Why
As the owner of the business, the company’s why and your why are one and the same. Finding your why has far-reaching benefit beyond just yourself. Your core passion is the engine for your personal life and your business life. It is the foundation for every decision you make and every action you take.
How to Discover Your Why
Your why isn’t’ something you create; you discover. It takes some digging, some soul-searching. Sinek says it’s fully formed by the time you’re 14 – 20. With concentrated effort, you may discover it in an hour or two.
When we work with an owner to find their why, we start by looking back to your teens and early 20’s. What we’re looking for is an inflection point. An inflection point is the point of a curve at which a change in the direction of curvature occurs. It’s a time of significant change; a turning point, a point at which your life changes direction. We ask you about your high school years—what were they like for you? What interested you? Bored you? Was there an incident, a comment, or a realization that changed your direction? It could be a comment made by a parent or teacher that, looking back, changed how you viewed your future. We ask you the same questions about your college years or post-high school years. We look for patterns or dichotomies or conflicting points. We almost always find that your inflection point isn’t something you were aware of before you made a deliberate effort to find it. It surfaces only with the perspective that comes from looking back upon it years later.
For Roger, at age 14 he looked up to a smart, capable cousin who chose to take the easy path in life rather than to push to become the best they could be. He recalls being disappointed in that cousin, a disappointment that, looking back, had a profound impact on the choices he made for his life. He chose to take all college level courses in high school against the advice of his guidance counselor who said that he had shown no ability to handle that level of coursework. Nevertheless, Roger took those courses, finished near the top of his class and won an appointment to West Point. His why is helping business owners achieve their highest potential.
You’ll find lots of advice on ways to find your why. The process you use to find your why will be as individual and unique as your why itself.
Inspire Results Business Coaching’s Finding Your Why Tool
For that reason, we developed a “cafeteria style process” that offers a smorgasbord of questions that work well for business owners working to discover their why. The questions accommodate various learning and thinking styles. Since your why is formed between ages 14 to 20, the questions start by asking you about your current life and then jump back in time and ask about your childhood and growing up years, ending with the “million dollar” question about your inflection point. It may not be necessary for you to answer every question. Choose the questions that work best for you though we encourage you to answer most all of them.
We’ve seen great success using a business coach to ask the questions and listen deeply to the answers and assist in identifying dichotomies and patterns. If it’s a business coach who is familiar with your background, work, struggles, personality, etc., even better as they can use that knowledge to apply to the search.
Click here to download Inspire Results Business Coaching’s FINDING YOUR WHY TOOL and get started finding YOUR why. Feel free to email any of our expert business coaches with questions or just to let us know that you found your why!
To you and your business’ inspired results,
Certified Business Coach, Roger Engelau – Roger@InspireResults.com
Business Coach, Brad Justus – Brad@InspireResults.com
Business Coach, Chad Blacklock – Chad@InspireResults.com
Business Coach, Matt Sherck – Matt@InspireResults.com
Business Coach, Natalie Menke – Natalie@InspireResults.com