The 5 “W” questions “Who? What? Where? When? Why?” have been a staple of life and advice for ages. We learn them from parents, teachers, and television cop shows. They can be the basis for getting to the root of an issue or for fleshing out an idea. However, when is the last time you applied them to what you are currently doing in life?
Do you know the importance of the order you approach them in hinges on one of them being answered first?
The “why” matters the most.
I was sitting in my friend’s hair salon getting my head shaved (overkill I know, but she fades so well) when I noticed her business cards.
ME: I see you don’t have your website on your card, do you have one?
HER: No. I did for a little bit, but I never kept up on it because my days are too busy.
ME: I think you should revisit the website. Help people know that you are here doing great things with hair (a “dad” joke that I was quite pleased with).
HER: I know, I really need to get on it.
ME: Well you can definitely do it. It has become very easy to make a great site yourself. What’s your mission statement or vision?
This got the conversation rolling on what led her down the path of being a stylist. She explained that when she was young she just needed a job, so she found one doing part-time work as an assistant at a family friend's hair salon. Then she “just started to do hair”.
I know this woman. She is bubbly, a very hard worker, cares for her clients on a personal level, and strives to learn and do her best every day; so “I just started to do hair” didn't jive with her dedication and personality.
“No, getting a job is what you had to do in order to make money. Why did you start growing in the company and why did you stay in the industry and start your own business?” She explained that she wasn't interested in the business at first but then she started noticing young women coming in to get their hair done for prom, for their wedding, and mostly to just feel beautiful. She loved that she could make someone’s vision of change a reality and that she had the ability to transform how they felt about themselves when they left her chair.
That was her “why” she wanted to make people feel great about something in their lives that would make them happy no matter what was going on outside of her doors.
None of the rest of the questions mattered as much. She had the: who, what, when, and where answered, however, the people she wanted to transform don’t have an attachment to a building or time. They want to know why she is different. Why should they literally put their hair in her hands? When you meet her, you can tell she loves doing what she does. But you have to meet her for that. She needs to get potential clients to understand the thing that those who meet her already know; she will make you look and feel great.
She already had her “why” but it was buried and rough. She knew it by feeling, but now she can articulate that feeling to a larger audience who will see her for the first time, online.
It is a simple change in understanding your vision, move the “why” to the front of the line. The other questions matter only if they are founded by your “why”.
He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how – Friedrich Nietzsche
Take a look at what you are doing right now. Do you have your “why”?
If not, take a moment and write down the path you took before you decided to do what you are doing all the way through today. Then find out if your “why” in the beginning matches with your “why” right now.
If it doesn’t, then maybe you should have a deeper conversation with yourself about what you want to do. Maybe you’ve created a new “why” for your life, either way, write it down. Know it and live it. The people you know will see your “why” lived out in day-to-day practice. But those who can’t meet you face-to-face will see why you do what you do in your vision.
Make your “why” matter.