Originally Published 03/19/2021
There are a few exercises I believe everyone should do in life to discover their calling and create a compass to guide their life. They are:
- Discover and declare Your Why
- Define your Core Values
- Create your Mission Statement
- Create your Vision for your future and
- Create your Life Roles
I have done each of these for my personal life, my family, and my vocation and I encourage you to do the same. These take time and intentionality to complete these, but I believe it will pay you huge dividends and allow you to live the fulfilling life you were called to live.
In this blog I will talk about how to discover and declare “Your Why”
What is “Your Why”?
First let us start with the concept of “Your Why”. I first learned of this concept through the famous Simon Sinek Ted Talk which was later turned into a book called “Start with Why.” In Simon’s talk and book his premise is “people do not buy what you do, people buy why you do it.” He believes that great brands have a compelling “why” that causes their customers to want to engage with their product because they believe in it. I believe a “why” is simply THE DRVING FORCE BEHIND WHAT YOU DO. It is the force that gets you to want to jump out of bed in the morning and do it again after a bad day.
I believe that each of us has a unique "why" that God has embedded into us that we need to discover and declare. I also think each family should have a mutual "why" and every company should have a "why". Your personal "why", your family "why" and your company "why" are not necessarily the same, but I believe they must be congruent to find fulfillment and satisfaction in life.
Why a “Why” Is Important?
When a person discovers their "why", it gives them a sense of purpose which can lead to satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment. However, it's not just discovering it that is important, it’s the clarity it gives you to make decisions in your life. When you have your life narrowed down to one simple truth it can make the rest of the decisions easy. It will help you know which company to work for or if you need to start your own company. It can help you decide who to marry. The key is once you have discovered this truth about yourself, it can give you the framework to living a satisfying life because you know what drives you to live!
I have a Mission, why do I Need a Why?
Many companies have declared a mission statement and far less have done it personally, but those that have often done this process think it’s the same as a “why”. In my opinion they are different. A mission of a company can change over time. For example, “The March of Dimes” started out with the mission to eradicate polio. Once Dr. Salk’s vaccine had been effective to eliminating the need for the organization, they changed their mission to birth defect prevention. Their "why" did not change however, they were still fighting for the health of children. Once you discover your “Why” I believe this does not fundamentally change, the wording may change but your "why" is your deep purpose and will not change. In my industry some firms have shifted from investment management in their mission to financial planning. Their "whys" have not shifted but their mission has. At Beratung, our "why" is “to educate and empower people so that can pursue their goals and live a fulfilling life” but our mission is "empower clients to make informed financial decisions." They might sound the same but you will notice that our "why" does not mention the word financial. What if in the future of the industry and needs of clients has changed so much we do focus on more than their financial decisions? This would cause our mission to change but our fundamental "why" would not be changed.
How to Discover Your Why
There are many different views on how to approach discovering your why. In the book “Find Your Why” by Simon Sinek he and his co-authors give you a step-by-step process to find your why. They have a formula they believe all "whys" should use which is “To __*insert your contribution*__so that __*insert your impact*__.” As they say in the book “the first blank represents the contribution you make to the lives of others. The second blank represents the impact of your contribution.” So maybe you “build car parts so that the American working man can get to work”. That is a poor why and a play on words from the movie “Tommy Boy,” but it serves a quick example. The book is a great resource but I have used a slightly different system for my company, personal, and business "whys". I also think that it does not have to follow that formula. It should be, in my opinion, one sentence that is short and concise.
So, my process to discover your why is:
- Seek God for discernment.
- Use “spaghetti approach” to write down any thoughts that come to mind about your "why". This should be done over multiple times.
- Narrow down your list to ten options or less.
- Seek advice from others.
- Spend time thinking about them.
- Once you have it narrowed down to one, “test drive it” by saying it daily and you will know if it's right for you
- Once you feel you have it, boldly declare it.
How to Declare Your Why
Having a "Why" that you hide under a bush is useless. Once you have discovered it, you want to boldly declare it. Start with writing it out. Then you should read it every day; you wake up and make it part of your daily routine. Then have it visually represented by posting on your bathroom mirror, at your desk, and other places to remind you. You should tell your spouse if you have one, your colleagues, your friends and anyone that will listen. You should post it on social media. The more you tell others your "why" and the more you read your "why" it will help you to focus your life on things that are congruent with your "why".
Let me declare my “whys” to you:
- Personal – “I serve God by serving others.”
- Family – “We have been blessed so we bless others."
- Company “To educate and empower people so they can pursue their goals and live a fulfilling life“
I would love to hear your “why” and how you came up with it. If you have a different approach, share it with me. You can leave comments on my LinkedIn or email me. If you found this helpful, please multiply by sharing it with another leader!