I’ve always been told “Start with our why,” “Understand our why,” “What are we doing, and why?” But…why bother? Recently, I’ve been in some coaching conversations that have me reflecting on why we start with our why. Generally, the why is our goal. It is why we are undertaking the task at hand. It can be hard to find that goal if we aren’t sure what it is. By starting with it, we have a clear direction to head, or at least a glimmer of a way forward. So, I wanted to share a few situations where beginning with our why can answer our questions before they have ever arisen. 


I don’t know… 

If we’re coming up against the roadblock of not knowing how to do the task, the next step, where to start, etc.…ask the question: “What is the why here?” What am I trying to accomplish, or in other words, why am I doing this? Beginning at the start of the issue can show us the paths forward we hadn’t even considered before. Thinking about the original goal can reignite motivation, help our brain to think in a different way, or get us to refocus our energy on what’s most important. 


I don’t get it… 

If we’ve been trying to do a task and we don’t understand it, or just don’t get it, try going back to the why. A great example of this came from my recent experience as a sound designer for a local theatre production. I have experience as a stage manager and I watched the stage manager struggle with calling a few cues at the correct time, so we went back to the why. Why do we need these cues? What is the goal they are trying to accomplish? I explained what the cue did and why it fit into the story where it did. This helped them understand the context and know what to watch for to call the cue! By reaffirming the goal, we can validate the purpose of our task. 


I can’t decide… 

Going back to our why when we need to decide can help us choose the right answer for our goal. If we are launching a new tool so that engineers spend less time manually entering data, then we should choose more automated features and less manual entry features. If we are planning a party to help build connections within our community and are faced with a decision to set up the tables in rows or groups, we can think about our why. Tables in a row wouldn’t allow for much discussion or relationship building, which goes against the why! The path might be made clearer when we define what we need to get out of what we’re doing. 


Starting with our “why” helps define what we need to do, the path forward, and why it needs to be done. How about you? When do you find coming back to your why most helpful?  





Topics: Business Skills & Business Acumen

Katrina Colahan

About the Author

Katrina Colahan

Katrina is a Communication Specialist with Your Clear Next Step. She was an intern for about 2 years before taking on a full-time role sending emails, posting on social, designing graphics, publishing blogs, and more. She graduated from Simpson College with a degree in Theatre Arts, which she loves to use in her free time (when there isn't a pandemic).

Receive a weekly dose of inspiration in your inbox by signing up for our weekly newsletter