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You are no doubt familiar with the concept of the “5 Ws” which refer to Who, What, Why, Where and When. These are basic fundamentals of planning and communication in all areas of life, including business. All five are important, but one of them stands out as being essential.

Out of the 5 Ws, why is the most introspective.

“He who has a why can endure any how.” —Frederick Nietzsche

“Well, why?” you may ask. First off, thank you for proving my point, second, it is the one question that makes us pause. “Who, what, when, where…” those are the easy answers, the “I can fake this book report” type of questions. It takes time and some deeper thinking to provide the “why” behind something, and it should.

The why is what drives us, it’s what gets us up in the morning to face each day. It is, in the end, what will keep up doing what we do. It will also help us keep long term clients and employees because operating out of your why lends itself to inspiring others.

How to find your why…

1. Start with the end in mind.

When you think about your business, what do you ultimately want to be known for? When you retire, what are the principles you want your successors to adhere to? In 100 years, what will your business be known for?

Let your pen (or word processor) run free. Let every detail into this draft and draw the perfect picture of what this looks like. Being specific as possible and paint a picture for yourself.

2. Distillation: Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love CTRL+X

Now take your big, beautiful vision, and distill it. Bring it down to 4-5 key phrases. Write it so that you could tell someone in 30 seconds what your business is about. This “elevator pitch” is perfect for using when you’re networking or introducing yourself to a group of people.

3. Frame it.

Ok, I’m being hyperbolic, you don’t have to literally put it in a frame but put it somewhere that you can read it daily, or weekly, or whenever you need to refocus yourself and your business to it’s core values. It will help to read it regularly to keep your focus in mind.