Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

How to find your WHY

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A key focus of this blog—from its beginning—has been purpose. Leading on purpose, working with purpose; doing things intentionally, doing things for the right reason. Though topics have led in various directions, the core focus has been purpose.

A word closely tied with purpose is why. Thanks to Simon Sinek, the word ‘why’ has become much more powerful. We’ve learned that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Find Your Why

The concept of starting with why has been around for eight+ years thanks to Sinek. His book has been a world-wide success and has revolutionized how people think about their work and their own intrinsic drivers. Simon’s work has certainly had a major impact on my thinking.

Find Your Why-coverThe difficulty, however, has been discovering my own why and understanding how to articulate it. Fortunately, Simon, and his co-authors David Mead and Peter Docker, have released a how-to book called FIND YOUR WHY: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team. This book takes you on a discovery journey through the steps of finding your own why, and also the steps of finding your team or your organizations why.

After the introduction, a short review of Simon’s original work, and overview of process, the authors delve into “why discovery for individuals.” They lay out the steps you need to take to discover your why, which include:

  1. Find your partner. To find your why, you go back in to your past come up with stories that have shaped your life. The role of your partner is to listen to the stories that shaped your life, and help you interpret them.
  2. Get your partner up to speed. They provide several steps your partner will do to help you. This step helps you describe the steps to your partner and get him or her up to speed.
  3. Pick a time and place. A simple, but important, scheduling exercise.
  4. Gather your stories. An essential step in the process, this is where you take a mental journey back through your life to discover important moments that shaped you. You list out your stories, narrow them down to the five-to-eight most important, and prepare to share them.
  5. Share your stories. This is where you share your stories with your partner. The authors provide details on how to effectively share your stories, as well as direction for your partner as he/she takes notes, including the types of follow-up questions they should ask.
  6. Identify your themes. In this step, you go through the data your partner has recorded as you have told your stories. This is where it all comes together. Here is where the key themes and drivers in your life come in to full focus.
  7. Draft your why. Now it all comes together. With the help of your partner, you draft your why statement in a succinct format that will help you better know who you are and what drives you to do what you do.

The two chapters that follow take you through a similar process for finding the why in a group situation. Then, you go through the process of stating your hows, that helps you complete your golden circle.

I’m working on Steps 1 and 4. I’ll report back once I have nailed down my very own why! I’m looking forward to this journey.

Remember: “Happiness comes from what we do. Fulfillment comes from why we do it.”

Questions: Do you have the drive and commitment to find your why? Why is it important (to you) to find your why? Please leave a comment in the space below.

The Product Management Perspective: One of the key aspects of the role of product manager is to inspire those with whom you work. Your success depends on the efforts of other people and teams, and their ability to do their jobs effectively. If it’s not yet clear, you need to find your ‘why’ and then work hard to make sure everyone else knows it—not necessarily because you tell them, but because they see it in your actions.

One thought on “How to find your WHY

  1. Congrats on mapping out your own personal steps to find meaning and purpose! Knowing where to begin and having awareness is half of the challenge. Good luck on your journey!

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