creating your “why” statement

Dean Crisp is an author, coach, and leadership development instructor who travels throughout North America to teach his Intentional Leadership class. Check out our class schedule at 

In this week’s blog, I want to continue the discussion of the importance of knowing your ‘why’ and giving you some tips on how to create your own ‘why’ statement.  Simon Sinek is credited with starting the ‘why’ statement movement with his book and TedTalk called Start With Why.  It’s a great book and one that I highly recommend to all of my students and coaching clients. His signature statement in that book is “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Humans respond to emotion and tend to buy products because of how it makes them feel. Take a diehard sports fan for any professional or college team. The more the fan has good “feelings” from their experience at the games, the less the cost of the ticket matters.

So, this week I want to give you a simple exercise that will show you how to create your why statement. Once you have done this, refined it, etc. you will realize how easy it is to filter your decision making at home and at work.

First, list the significant events in your life as well as the people associated with this. These can be good or bad events but the point is to list the events you remember as far back as you can on a simple continuum:



Not so good

Second, list the people that you would consider major influences on your life and why that is. I call these your Mt. Rushmore people

Thirdly, from the previous two exercises, list the themes, values and motivations that get you out of bed each morning. List the most inspiring of them that really speak to you. This isn’t easy sometimes, but if you really listen to your inner voice, you will know what themes you see throughout your life and what values really motivate you to action.

Next, for each area of your life state “WHAT” you do and then “HOW”  you do it. This will help clarify for you the difference between WHAT, HOW and WHY.  Many people will accidentally think they’ve created a “WHY” statement, which is the driving force behind WHAT and HOW you do things, as a WHAT statement. By listing WHAT and HOW you do things in each area of life, it will help you avoid making a WHAT statement into your WHY statement. 

This will start to show your Golden Circle as Sinek calls it.

Image result for sinek golden circle

Finally, take a stab at writing your WHY statement. It will look something like this

To (your contribution) SO THAT (the impact you hope to have)

Some examples of why statements are:

“To inform, inspire and educate others so that we may help them live a purpose-driven life.”  -Crisp Consulting Group

“To inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, we can change our world.’   -Simon Sinek

Use your HOWS that you listed above to filter those activities that don’t align with our “why” Your HOWS are your strengths, what you do well. “See the big picture” “Act with humanity” “Develop Aesthetically-pleasing personal productivity devices” etc.  These become the recipe for your success and for implementing your WHY into WHAT you do.

In summary, I hope this helps many of you who reach out saying that you are struggling to create your ‘why’ statement. Really, it takes some time alone or with a trusted colleague to help you identify these things. We don’t recommend a spouse or really close friend, but someone who does know you well enough and who can be honest with you in identifying the themes of your life. You can also do this on your own as long as you can be objective and honest with yourself.

The goal is to truly reflect on these things and come up with a why statement that works for you both at work and at home.  Let me hear your thoughts on this and other blog posts. Log in and comment on the blog or email me below. At Leaders Helping Leaders, we are all teachers and we are all students of leadership. Let’s grow together and remember Leadership Rocks!


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