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April Book Club

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

Find Your Why

This book will be discussed in A Novel Approach book club.

Thursday, April 19th at 5 pm EST / 4 pm CST / 3 pm MST

Join the Facebook group A Novel Approach to participate in the discussion.

Foreword Summary

Getting fulfillment out of the work you do everyday is a right. "We are entitled to feel fulfilled by the work we do." We want to work in an environment that inspires us, makes us feel safe, and fills us with a sense of contribution. We should feel like we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves. The concept of having our WHY is to dig deeper into your purpose and story. It’s meant to answer why you do what you do everyday. "People and organizations that know their WHY enjoy greater, long-term success, command greater trust and loyalty among employees and customers and are more forward thinking and innovative than their competition." We want to learn to live out our WHY. It will inspire and show you what you are capable of.

Introduction Summary

"What draws me in is not what people do for a living but why they do it." Learning about other people’s passion is only interesting when you know why they are passionate about it. You are intrigued on why people do what they do, how they spend their time, and why they think you would want to hear what they do for a living. Likely having held this position for more than a few months or years, you have some kind of idea of what your day will consist of and what you will accomplish. At the end of the day it will be over and you will be back at it the following morning. Why do you do it? You know what you do, but why do you do it? This answer is bigger than for money/ providing for yourself or a family. It is bigger than enjoying who you work with or the environment you are in. It is your Why, your purpose, your reason.

So what? What difference are you making? You need to be able to put words to the reason you love what you do.
"Your vision is only actionable if you say it out loud. If you keep it to yourself, it will remain a figment of your imagination."

Everyone has a WHY, a purpose, or a belief that is the source of your passion. Discovering your WHY is the difference between happiness and fulfillment. Happiness is temporary and passes with time, but fulfillment is knowing your reason and addition to a higher cause.
"Happiness comes from what we do. Fulfillment comes from why we do it."

"If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we need to know our why."

Chapter 1: Start with WHY

chapter 1 - why how and what

The Golden Circle- What we do, how we do it, and why we do it.

"Why does your company exist? Why did you get out of bed this morning? Why should anyone care?"

In thinking about relationships and the type of relationships you want to build with clients, you need to know what separates you or your organization from the rest. "Loyalty isn’t built on features and benefits. When we align emotionally with our customers and clients, our connection is much stronger and more meaningful than any affiliation based on features and benefits." Of course it may have originally got them interested, but what keeps loyal customers coming back even though there are other companies or people offering similar things? Loyalty is and long-lasting relationships are based on something deeper than features and benefits that do not inspire.

Knowing and leading a pitch with WHY pulls in an audience by evoking more emotion and influential value. We need to focus on who our company is and what we stand for instead of what products and services we offer. " If your customers’ personal beliefs and values align with those expressed in your pitch- if they believe in the spread of ideas- then they are much more likely to want to do business with you, not just once but over and over and over again." It reflects you and your company well when you do business with a company that reflects your beliefs. This is powerful. It makes you feel like you have an alliance with some bigger making customers loyal to you. "How we feel about something is more powerful that what we think about it or them."

Biologically, the WHAT part of the circle correlates to the outer section of our brain responsible for rational and analytical thought. It helps with understanding facts, features and benefits. The WHY and HOW corresponds with the middle part of the brain responsible for behavior and decision making. It helps with feelings like trust, loyalty, and your gut feeling. A bad gut feeling is a result of you about to make a decision that is out of alignment with your morals and values. That means when you are discussing your work with a potential lead, telling them your HOW and WHY is much more powerful than saying WHAT you do. You want them to make a decision about you.

"Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you are at your natural best. You will be able to make more intentional choices for your business, career and life. You’ll be able to inspire others to buy from you, work with you, and join your cause. From now on, you will work with a purpose, on purpose. From now on, you’ll start with a WHY."

Your WHY is a tool. It is made to help you. Using it will give you the ability to build a team advancing together toward a common goal with advocates as clients supporting you. Knowing your WHY will allow you to go through life with confidence in knowing what you are meant to be doing.

Finding the right fit also comes along with understanding your WHY. You have to believe in what they believe when working for a company to succeed to your fullest potential as an employee. Each company, team, and individual has a WHY. The opportunity is to make sure the right people are working in the right places for the right company. Hiring for skills over fit leads to talk about culture but a lack of building it. The WHY is a vision that can be used as a tool to inspire, act with purpose, and develop strategies. So, how will we find our WHY and put it into words?

Chapter 2: Discover your WHY

Reasons to know your why:

  • You will be able to better communicate what makes your company different to your employees, clients, and customers
  • Your company’s WHY is a tool that can be used in hiring to help find a better fit by being able to decipher if they believe what you believe in
  • It will provide you an understanding for how your passions connect to the company’s
  • It can help those on a team connect in a deeper way because they understand how their organization is making a difference
  • Your WHY engages people in discovering their purpose and identity within a team or organization

How to start discovering your WHY- discovering your individual WHY is a process made to strengthen your own understanding of yourself. Let’s touch on what it looks like to step through the process.

Step 1- Gather Stories and Share Them: What shares more about who you are than the stories you tell? During this process, don’t lose sight of who you are. Share what you are proud of and express who you are but don’t forget this is about you, not the "you 20 years from now". Your WHY is YOUR original story. We are the way we are because of our stories, so this is the time to team tag up and share. "Rediscover the details, the feelings, the conversations, the lessons learned..." Focus on the quality of the memory and start picking them apart.

Step 2 - Identify common themes: This will require an additional hand on board. As you share, discuss, talk through your stories, ideas and themes will start displaying them. Your stories likely will have commonalities and that’s why only those stories speak to you so deeply. Your goal is to find a theme have it click. "Yes, me- that’s who I am."

Step 3 - Draft and Refine a WHY statement: We want a clear, concise, actionable, and affirmative WHY statement. The "TO , SO THAT ." format will be the structure tool you will use to build a strong, effective sentence that will be memorable. "The first blank represents the contribution you make to the lives of others and the second blank represents the impact of your contributions. It is everlasting and must be relevant in both your personal and professional life. It is a statement of your value at work as much as it is the reason your friends love you."

Reminder- We are apart of something bigger than ourselves but you need to know what that is and why.

Chapter 3: WHY Discovery for Individuals

Let’s get to building!

First, FIND A PARTNER- this person will help you articulate your themes. "A second set of eyes and ears- a partner- is invaluable." They will be there to help oversee your thoughts, question your ideas, and to make sure you are staying true to who you are. Search and ask people willing to spend time with you and listen.

Partner tips for Partners

  • Your goal as a partner is to leave them with a draft version of their WHY statement
  • Your main role is to be there in support and listen. Take in all the information they are feeding you.
  • Put aside your biases. Don’t let what you think to cloud the process.
  • Invite them to say more. The more you push in stories and discover how they feel the easier it will be for the both of you to decipher a common trend.
  • Take notes- we are prone to forgetfulness so jot down ideas.
  • If the person starts speaking in generalities, push them to dig deeper. Ask for specifics.
  • Look for the emotions it draws out for them through stories and events.
  • Uncover the reason they felt like they needed to tell you a specific story.
  • ASK- how did that make you feel? What did you absolutely love about that? What makes that different than other times you have felt that emotion? How did that shape you into who you are today?
    • Ask open ended questions
    • Avoid questions that start with Why, change them to start with what
    • Sit in silence- let them struggle to answer the hard questions.

Second, you need A TIME AND A PLACE! Pick a comfortable place where you can be venerable. A place with little interruption and little noise. Put a large portion of your time into this- the more you put in the more you get out. The process works best when the whole process is completed in one sitting- it keeps your ideas and thoughts straight.

Third, GATHER YOUR STORIES-Do some digging and prep for your partner meet up. You are looking for stories that bring your values, experiences, and lessons to light.

Tips on getting the "right" stories:

  • Think in specifics
  • Think of who has played a large role in who you are today and why
  • Think of a time where someone had a large hand in mentoring you and what that meant and looked like for you
  • If an event meant something to you, helped shape who you are, taught you a lesson, or made you feel strong emotions of pride or joy, write it down
  • "WHY comes from your past" so any experiences up until today are fair game
  • Discover at least 5 stories your consider largely impactful
  • The more specific, the easier the process

Methods to story gather-

  • Peaks and Valleys: On a piece of paper, draw a line (representing a time line). Above the line, put stories you consider to be happy memories. Below the line, put events you wouldn’t necessarily want to relive but has shaped you to who you are. The higher you plot above, the more fulfilling the story is. The lower you plot below the line, the more challenging the event was.
  • Memory Prompt: Ask yourself a series of questions to see what your memories spark
    • Who in your life has helped you become the person you are today and what did that look like for you?


    • Think of the day you went home from work thinking " Wow, I would have done that for free" and think of the day you hope to never go through again because it was so bad
    • Think of your earliest happy memory
    • What was a pivotal moment in your life and who was apart of that? What were the results of it?
    • What did you enjoy and hate about school?
    • What happened that changed the way you think about the world and your role in it?

Fourth, SHARE YOUR STORIES- "Specificity is key to the process. Since your feelings are at the heart of your WHY, it is vital that you connect your memories to your emotions." Rely on your partner to prod you with questions regarding specificity and emotions. Dig deep. Pick the material and emotional links between your stories and organize them. Uncover who you are in this process.

Fifth, IDENTIFY YOUR THEMES- Pick themes along the way and make a list of words, feelings and phrases. Formulate themes and organize similar words and phrases into categories on similarity. Go through them and circle your top few to narrow down your ideas that seem larger and more significant than the rest. Then choose the one that feels like "your unique and one theme that captures the impact" you hold. The left over themes will used for your HOW process in a later Chapter.


Your WHY should be actionable, effective, and focused on how you directly impact those around you. Come up with something that feels right. This is your defining sentence. This is how you impact the world.


The friend exercise. Ask a couple of your best friends "Why are your friends with me?" First, your friends will likely respond with characteristics or something along the lines of "you have just been there for me and we go together so well." These are all good things, but we want to evoke their emotions. Continue to prod them for a response. Let them struggle with the question at hand and wait for the switch between talking about your personality and speaking about how you make them feel. We are looking for this deep emotional response. Focus on what they say is the difference you make to them. This is your friend formulating your WHY to them. They have stated your WHY in their own words.

Give your WHY time to set in and work on refining it, critiquing it, and reformulating it. It needs to sound like you. The goal of refining your WHY isn’t to make it "sound better" it is to make it feel better.

Chapter 4: WHY Discovery for Groups

"A nested why is a purpose, cause, or belief that defines the subgroup within the organization. The goal is for each individual to work for a company in which they fit the culture, share the beliefs, believe in the vision and work on a team in which they feel like they are valued and valuable."

You need your own identity within an organization. You are a part of something that is bigger than yourself. You need to find your purpose in that. Taking the time to articulate a group’s why results in having higher morale, more productivity, higher levels of innovation, and the better retention rates over time. Each of us has our own purpose and every individual should know their why but they should also know what vision their group shares.

A unit of a team should feel together and inspired to discover their nest why to make better relationships and complement each other. "When a single division starts to think, act and communicate based on its why, good things happen."

The process of forming a Tribes WHY:

1: Find your facilitator- find a person who is trusted by the organization or team you have that desires to serve as a strong, curious facilitator. This will require probing, questioning, and organizing the group in which the individual serves. Your goal is to discover why you as group make people feel differently and choose your team or organization over another.

Reminder- "A WHY is discovered, not created, and that that why the discovery process is not inspirational nor is it a branding or marketing exercise. What makes a true WHY so compelling is that it explains who you are, not what we'd like the company to be someday."

2: Prepare for your session- you need to invite the participants, schedule enough time, find the right settings, and set up the room in advance.

- Invite participants: The group should be a max of 30. You want to generate stories that are a diverse representation of the organization as a whole while also containing conversation and repetitive ideas. Keep in mind new employees can offer special insights because they recently chose you over other organizations. Look for participants who hold a large passion for the company and discover their individual why's.

- Schedule enough time: A team's why takes at least 4 hours, but again is what you put in is what you get out. Dedicate your time to this and don't break until it has been formulated.

- Find the right setting: It should be large enough for participants to break into smaller groups. Choose a space where the group won't be interrupted.

- Set up the room in advance: Avoid using valuable workshop time rearranging the room. The room should have arranged furniture that generates open discussion and movement. It should have a way for people to capture their ideas such as flip charts, white boards, or pens.

Chapter 5: Why Discovery for Groups part 2

The facilitator plays a large role in the selection of a WHY for an organization. The section is dedicated to facilitators leading a group by setting the context, running the WHY discovery process, and drafting why statement with a group.

Chapter 6: State Your How's

Up until now, all of the focus has been on our WHY, but now we will take a little step back and focus on the HOW. Little Reminder- Our HOWs are the actions we take when we are at our natural best to bring our WHY to life. Our WHATs are the tangible manifestation of our WHY, the actual work we do every day.

YOUR HOWs ARE YOUR STRENGTHS: Your leftover themes from your formulated WHY themes are your strengths. "These behaviors were so natural to you that you may have been thinking, 'what's the big deal?" Your How's are what you need to be your best and are a recipe for success. This is true for both an individual and a tribe. "We strive to help others be the best versions of themselves and it is the different strengths we hold that are our complementary HOWs that allow us to have a far greater impact."

HOW’s AS FILTERS: "When our HOW are clearly stated we have a recipe to put ourselves into and create environments where we can be at our natural best." Make your How's simple, actionable phrases that can be put into practice. Formulate 4-6 and use them as filters for making important decisions. Your HOWS will be able to challenge you. They will provide an opportunity to discuss where you may have potential issues in working with others, your HOWs may be limited or out of alignment with a certain project.

CORPORATE VALUES VS HOWs: "A Tribes HOWs are it's guiding principles derived from the themes that emerged during the WHY process." Many companies use a variety of words such as honesty, hard work, versatility, but those are not HOWs. Many companies also use their "core values "as inspiration and where the company would like its employees. Again, not HOWs. A company's HOWs have to be able to tell them what our values look like in action.

YOUR HOWs BRING YOUR WHY TO LIFE: there's a process for articulating your HOWs.

Step 1- Narrow remaining themes: take a list of your themes and cross out ones you chose for your wise statement. Proceed to narrow them down until you have about 5.

Step 2- State your HOWs: your house must be actions and things you do that support your WHY. Turn themes into actions. Use words such as connect, find, make. Make sure they feel right.

Step 3- Provide context: provide a short description on each of the HOWs that gives them context and suggests what it might look like in practice.

Chapter 7: Take a Stand

After all of that, we have to act on them. We have to bring them to life. We have to share them. Sharing your WHY doesn't mean you run into a conversation instantly comfortable sharing it. You need to be able to learn how to communicate your purpose, cause, and beliefs to others. Begin sharing your WHY when people ask you "what do you do?" Reciting your WHY statement can help until you become comfortable enough to try other variations. Once you know your WHY you have the choice to live it out every day. This means you need to consistently be taking action. You want your WHY to resonate. WHY should attract people who believe what you believe in and repel others who don't.

Sharing the Tribe's WHY: there is an approach created to share the tribes why. You need to:

  • Share the experience
  • Help others own the WHY
  • Explore new opportunities.

As individuals within a company take ownership of the company's WHY, inspiration and energy will flow.

Sharing our WHY is sharing our identity to others. We want dedicated employees and inspired partners to bring our WHY to life. It should lead us to realize that there is something we are doing that is fulfilling.

"When you live your WHY, you thrive and so do the people around you."