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It can sometimes be a challenge for an individual or a group to create an inspiring WHY statement. Participants often get stuck in the correct wording of their WHY statement. They can’t find the right words to express their feelings, or it focuses too much on what someone or an organization does and what goals it pursues.
Do you recognize this as well? In this Blog, I give you eight keys to help you find an inspiring WHY statement.
What is a WHY statement again?
A WHY is the driving engine that helps you make your dreams come true. Those actions which give you fulfillment and help you achieve your goals, missions, and visions. You don’t make up a WHY. It has always existed in your life or that of an organization. It has manifested itself in early experiences (stories) that have significant emotional meaning for an individual or an organization. You discover your WHY. For more information about the background of a WHY please read:
->Reading tip: Find your WHY
Contribution and impact
A WHY consists of a contribution and an impact (effect) thereof on the world. That makes a WHY actionable. Your contribution is that unique thing you do that changes or improves something in the world.
I see very worthy goals, missions, or core ideas of individuals and organizations. These often contain a motivational contribution but often lack an impact. Just read the following real example of an organization:
“We are committed to helping organizations accelerate sustainable and inclusive growth.”
I understand what they are doing, but it is not clear to me what the impact on the world is of this accelerated and sustainable growth.
Short and simple
The first draft of my personal WHY statement was:
“I serve by facilitating so people can uplift themselves and experience greater happiness and love.”
My WHY statement above still leaves too many questions open. It was longer at first, but a WHY statement should be short and simple. It must clearly include a contribution and an impact. About the contribution, the question is to what extent I serve even more. The impact is also unclear: is it to experience more happiness or love?
A sharper WHY statement is:
“I facilitate so that others can uplift themselves and experience more love.”
I am convinced that when people are more enthusiastic when they are more confident, when they experience more happiness and flow, and when they are in the here & now, they can experience more love.
Avoid saying what you are doing
One of the best WHY statements I know is from the La Marzocco company. That is a company from Florence, Italy, that makes espresso machines. Their WHY statement is the following:
“To build relationships so that we can enrich the lives of others.”
From this WHY statement, you cannot conclude that this company builds espresso machines. It could also be an organization in the entertainment business, or maybe this statement is from a restaurant.
When La Marzocco started looking for their WHY, they realized it was about people getting together and talking over a good cup of coffee. It was not about what they made and how they did it. It is about the contribution of a good cup of coffee from a beautiful espresso machine so that people have good conversations.
A WHY statement is not about what someone does, which organization it is, and what products or services they provide.
I often see very good objectives, visions, or missions of an organization or an individual. They are all finite. You achieve a goal, realize a mission, or live your vision at some point. Because a WHY statement is infinite or generative, you can never complete it. It remains a continuous process, and you use it as a tool to achieve your goals.
->Reading tip: What is the difference between purpose, vision, mission, and your WHY?
It’s always positive
Can WHY statements be negative? No. A WHY always serves others, and it has a positive effect on the world. When people use a WHY for negative goals, they realize those goals through their actions (their WHAT). Those actions are hurtful, disrespectful and certainly do not serve others. People see in your behavior how you live your WHY.
An example of a short, simple, positive, and infinite WHY statement is the following:
“We create moments that have a positive effect on you.”
Do you know which organization has this WHY statement? Let me know in the comment box at the end of this Blog!
It has a direct relationship with experiences
We’ve had several clients who struggled to find the right words that go along with their WHY. This often leads to a discussion about the meaning of certain words. It is not about the exact definition of a word but about its deeper meaning.
A WHY statement should relate to experiences and stories that evoke certain emotions or feelings. It should feel good and inspire others. In a semantic discussion, the energy and feeling quickly disappear. It is, therefore, important to focus on the actions of a WHY.
It contains visceral verbs
Those actions are visceral verbs. Examples are:
-I transform / we transform
-I design / we design
-I connect / we connect
-I collect / we collect
-I build / we build
These visceral verbs and actions are part of the contribution of a WHY statement. The point is that a WHY statement evokes the right feeling, that it inspires you and others to act.
->Reading tip: Examples of WHY statements
Chances are small that someone or an organization immediately find a perfect WHY statement. We have only experienced it once. It is a journey of discovery, and it takes time. By writing down or saying your WHY statement often, you discover that certain words don’t evoke the right feeling, can be simpler, or something is missing. That can go on for years. Just look at the development of my WHY or Simon Sinek’s WHY statement.
In his book “Find your WHY” from 2017, there is the following WHY statement by Simon Sinek:
“To inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together we can change our world.”
I recently discovered a slightly different Why statement on his LinkedIn profile page:
“To inspire people to do what inspires them so that together, each of us can change our world for the better.”
In this revised WHY statement, Simon has focused more on the individual who can change the world for the better, and when we do it together, that has much more impact. This revised version clarifies the WHY statement, and Simon probably adjusted it after further insight and self-reflection.
Do you want to discover your WHY?
We can help you! We facilitate WHY sessions for individuals as well as companies and organizations. A WHY helps you to act and make the right decisions on both a professional and personal level. Contact us today for a FREE intake session.
Is there a key ingredient that is missing? Which key ingredient appeals to you the most? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article and I look forward to reading from you!
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–Find your WHY, Simon Sinek