Tag Archives for " understand your why "

Why and How – the importance of both.

Why and How – the importance of both

Does spending time on your“why” stopping you from achieving outcomes?

How much time should you spend on why and how?

Can you do one without the other?

Is either essential for getting to where you want to be?

Affectus has developed a process to assist you to explore your why and develop direction. When we have delivered these powerful “pause and unearth” workshops for small groups and organisations our observations indicate that most people like to think and act.

Do you like to think and act? I like to combine the two – I rarely like to just act.

And, we have found, there is often resistance when we are just encouraged to act.

When Affectus spends time in intense sessions over weekends or mid-weeks we see the comfort levels rise and fall. The variation in comfort levels really depends on the time provided for people to think about why and act (or plan to act) on directions.

Why is it important to discover why and think how?

Thinking about my experience as a teacher, see Lessons From Teaching Naughty Boys Maths,  “Friday Survival” wasn’t developed to get people thinking. Actually it was to distract them from thinking about 3.30 bell.

As soon as I found my why – assisting people to see their leadership space and giving them the skills and courage to step in – I understood the importance of the following:

  • Sometimes people want busy work, but most of the time we want to use our brains
  • We are driven by purpose – our purpose – combined or individual
  • Action without meaning is demotivating
  • Taking action with a connection to what we care about keeps us focused and motivated

Now I am wondering. Do you agree?

Sometimes it is thinking about the opposite that solidifies thought. 


  • If an action you are undertaking has an absence of purpose, how long do you remain enthused?
  • If you spend too much time thinking about your purpose, can you get lost?

Questions to consider

I travel alone, mostly. And on those long drives I can spend many hours thinking. (I can also do a lot of very loud singing.) I find that if I don’t pause my thinking and take the next step into what I can practically do with my ideas I can get lost.

So, here are some questions for you to consider

  • What values must be present in your space?
  • What purposeful, meaningful, engaged activities do you love doing?
  • Whay makes you zing when you do it?
  • What skills, gifts and talents do you possess?
  • What do others say you are good at?

Affectus can guide you through the process of getting the why and how balance right. However, thinking through your responses to the above questions will certainly help you start balancing why and how.

Best of luck in your search for why and how.

The tension of why, and action

The tension of why and action.

This week I am going to share my personal reflection on the tension of why and action. In other words, a comparison of my why, others whys and getting on with it (action). 

A few weeks ago I spent some time talking to a change leader about action being more important than why. I was not convinced by his argument.

Why? Because I am sure you, like me, have spent precious hours and resources fiddling around on busy work but not really being convinced about why I was involved. Foofing around, I call it. Sometimes when I am too tired to do anything expect foof around it is ok. But even mindless foofing is beige after just a short period of time. Don’t you think?

I have spent a good couple of weeks considering my reaction to my learned friends theory that action is more important than why. During this time, I was thinking “what was that all about”.

So, here is a summary of that reflection of my experience and conversation about Why vs Action using Affectus’ 4 Dimensions of Reflection.

Dimension 1: Data – facts

Facts relating to my Why.

  • Using time valuably is important to me.
  • Being efficient is important.
  • Understanding the purpose is highly motivating.
  • Working with no understanding of the purpose is demotivating. 
  • Sorting the purpose (or the why) can happen while I am engaged in doing something action-oriented.
  • If I can’t understand the purpose (big picture or the connection to my why) then I don’t hang in there for very long.
  • Someone else’s why can dovetail into mine and add value to my purpose. And that dovetailing will add to theirs.
  • Doing something with no connection to my purpose bores me quickly.

What do you think about those facts?

Are they too simple?

Should I spend more time thinking through the facts?

For me there are some clear themes about motivation and drive and the connection to my purpose; my why.

Dimension 2: Data – feelings

Feelings relating to my Why.

  • When I am working on or in something that connects to my purpose I usually feel excited and focused.
  • I can find myself drifting into “I’m feeling bored” when I can’t find the reason.
  • When I am immersed in the doing/action of my purpose, either in a group or by myself,  I am happy and energised, .
  • I can find myself luxuriating in the bliss of tracking down research and information that will link to my concept which adds to my passions.
  • And I can spend hours looking for academic papers on all sorts of leadership stuff.  I love it and I honestly can feel like I have won lotto (not that I ever have so how would I really know) when I find research that confirms what I have been chasing.
  • I feel pissed off if I am chasing knowledge that is not relevant to what I am passionate about.

Golly that is revealing. When I look at those reflections I could feel very selfish. But actually, and again I would be interested in your comments, I know that my purpose is about changing the leadership outcomes for everyone I connect with and spend time with.

Mmmmm, I think I can sleep tonight.

Dimension 3: Decoding – meaning

What does the above all mean when I consider purpose, why, focus, meaning.

Well, this can be the most challenging part of thinking through and reflecting on what has happened. For the me insight when considering why is this:

  • I like to have an understanding of why I am doing something and it needs to be connected to what is motivating me and my purpose.
  • When I am working on something that is not connected to my purpose I can lose focus and motivation. But, if something fun or full of great action can be connected to my purpose I will find that connection and will commit to it.
  • Even though I am not great at finishing things off I can stick to something, completely, for a long time and can search for all sorts of querky and fascinating concepts if I am working on what I love and do well.

Is it the same for you? 

Dimension 4: Decisional – Action

Why is complex. 

I am driven by something that makes sense to me, that I love and feel committed too. Why will keep me “in” something that otherwise I may drift away from.

However, it is important to remember why is very personal. And therefore, so is the passion that drives others. So, although someone else's why might be different to ours it is still as important to them.

My decision 

Ask the question rather than make assumptions. Why? Because in asking the question my purpose may connect with another’s why which will be great for both of us.

Have you ever thought Why?

Have you ever thought Why?

A good place to start is with a story we shared recently in our Why and How, not Why or How blog

Read on once you have read the story of Lessons From Teaching Naughty Boys Maths.

Why is Why important? 

Affectus has developed an imaginative process to help you get a hand on your why. But why is why important?

In this current climate of wondering why people are acting the way they are, there are lots of question that might start with why.

  • Why did she speak like that?
  • Why would he have done that?

Why often flummoxes us when we look at the world.

I can remember listening to a dear friend of mine ask her young sons why they had done what they had. There was rarely a succinct answer but you could see their developing brain ponder the why.

The definition of why as a noun is a reason or an explanation and as an adverb for what reason and or purpose.

But Why is more than that.

Why is more than asking questions? It is about finding your purpose. What is your purpose? Why are you doing what you are doing?

Have you considered how to get to the bottom of why?

Do you wonder how more focused you could be?

The essential components of Why

Firstly what are the essential components to consider when exploring why?

Have you considered the values that guide you? Those values that are fundamental to you, your life.

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They determine your priorities.

This sometimes takes a bit of sorting. But establishing your values is the base block of your Why.

Be encouraged and reflective and uncover your values. You may be able to start seeing your What is being built as you think through your values.

If you understand your values you can see that they guide us in our decisions and our undertakings. Therefore, they are the fundamental block of what drives us. Our purpose.

Our Values and the link to our Why

After spending time considering and establishing your core values can you imagine having to operate against your values?

It is hard to imagine.

I heard a story recently about core values of the business. An interesting concept.

To know your business core values will assist you in knowing how to respond to your business environment.

Have you got your business values sorted? Perhaps you need to get your key people (notice I didn’t say executive team) around a table and discover your core business values.

Values drive our thinking, our responses, our behaviour, our actions. 

When we observe others around us we can see their values on display. Generosity, greed, consideration - we see them on our trains, our roads, in our workplaces, all around us. Our values are on public display. We know this and we display our values.

Connecting Values to Purpose.

Now let’s stretch your thinking about your values and your Why and connect them.

It is important to build the link between your values and your Why.

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They determine your priorities. Therefore, through knowing your values means you have a clear understanding of what is important to you. You can then directly link this to your purpose.

If your Why is:

  • doing something you see is of value to you (and potentially, hopefully to others)
  •  about working on something that is important to you​

then the link between your values and your Why is strong and should be considered and inseparable.

Know your values and understand that they are one of the building blocks to exploring your purpose.

The Illustration – Values and Why the important tension

To finish, we once heard an acquaintance talking about the workplace and personal values and the importance of working in a place that had similar values.

The personal story was confronting to hear. The tension in the story was clear. There were the espoused values of the organisation, however, the actual values were displayed through accepted behaviour and this created a disconnection with a disappointed employee.

Things had to change because the organisational values were not being lived and this prevented the employee from working with purpose. There was no connection. The employee considered that his purpose was not connected to the work of the organisation. The tension was too great and something had to change.

We have some other interesting blogs on why and other valuable concepts for you and your team here

If you would like your team to find purpose contact us and we will be able to assist in just 3 hours.

Why and How, not Why or How

Why and How, not Why or How

Here at Affectus we have developed a process to assist you to explore your why. Our observations and research has allowed us to develop a workshop that allows you to find where your passion is and how to weave that into your life so that you can fill as much of your days with what makes you zing.

However, what is why? And is it as important as how?

A recent and insightful conversation helped me resolve this question and I believe it will assist us to not navel-gaze for too long.

Lessons from teaching naughty boys maths.

Many, many years ago my professional life lead me to spend a short (but successful) time teaching in the Victorian secondary school system. I believe that schooling has changed a lot since, however, back then Friday afternoon was always faced with some level of anxiety. And, as a young graduate, Year 8 Maths on a Friday afternoon was akin to a death sentence. I always felt the anxiety build.

I learnt very quickly what to do with these lessons. I filled them with busy (and often mindless) easy photocopied maths sheets and simple mindless quizzes. I didn’t really care very much what the students received during those lessons - it was much more about all of us walking out alive as the final school bell for the week rang. It worked all the time (nearly).

The Lesson

The lesson I learnt was that sometimes people want busy work, but most of the time we want to use our brains. And we are driven by purpose – our purpose.

The difference between busy work and getting on with something is valuable to understand.

Continuing on with the above story of Year 8 Maths. If I had only provided busy work to these terrific young people every time I saw them during the week there would have been a real riot.

The question that constantly smacked me in the face during my three insightful and shaping years as a secondary teacher was

“what is the purpose of this activity?”

And I carried that sense of assisting people to understand purpose with me as I moved towards my leadership consultancy years.

It is all very well to keep everyone busy but wouldn’t it be better for you and me if we could find purpose. And see if it aligns with some or all of our combined skills and passions.

Understanding Your Why

And now to the inevitable of questions.

  • Do you know your why?
  • What values are essential to you every day?
  • What purposeful, meaningful, engaged activities do you love doing?
  • What makes you zing when you do it?
  • What skills, gifts and talents do you possess? 
  • What do others say you are good at?

Sometimes the answers to these questions are clear and identifiable? And sometimes we need to take time to respond. Whichever it is it is valuable for us to spend some time considering.

  • What do I like doing?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What do I know I do well that others reinforce?

It is not always that simple. A younger person I know reasonably well said to me recently “I know I don’t love what I do every day – it is harmless and not totally against my principles, but realistically I need to pay the mortgage.”

I completely understand those sentiments. However, my advice was: 

Still make time for what you are passionate about because you may be able to spend all of your time doing that when the financial stress comes off.

Why is Why important? 

Just this week I had a conversation with a change management facilitator. He tried to convince me that why wasn’t important. I remain convinced that why is important. 

It is important to gain understanding why we have spent our time doing something:

  • before
  • at the time 
  • afterwards

Why? Because it helps us identify:

  • what next
  • what more
  • where to from here

Otherwise it is just busy work and we are all back stuck in Year 8 Maths doing what Briggsy told us to. Yuk!

Margie Warrel says

While there’s no one pathway for discovering your life's purpose, there are many ways you can gain deeper insight into yourself, and a larger perspective on what it is that you have to offer the world.

However, I suppose I will concede something. That if we get caught in sorting the why then we may never move onto partaking of the brilliance of what we want to be part of.

What is more important?


Is the “Why I am doing this? Why am I taking this pathway” more important than the “How will I do this? How will I reach the next fork in the path?"?

From my work in leadership, of more than two decades, I think they are both important. And sometimes one comes before the other. Sometimes clarity for both why and how appear simultaneously. And sometimes they occur years and years apart.

My encouragement is to ask yourself if you are in the how (I get this done) stage? And if so,  spend a bit of time contemplating why? Understand does your how stage sit along with your values, passions and gifts?

And then ask yourself if you are moving through towards the end of the why (am I doing this) stage? If so, are you are pleased to have clarity that you have found your why?

And, after all that, then get on with the doing.

Explore Your Why

One of the exciting things when you explore your Why is the new sight you get; the clarity you receive and the understanding that occurs. 

Our experience in assisting people to explore their Why, and the process we take them through, allows us to observe individuals and groups and their responses. And the deeper knowledge we have gained is what you, as an individual, need to bring to the process of exploring your Why.

So, no matter how you are exploring your Why we would encourage you to consider the following.  

Letting go

Why is it important to let go?

It is important to let go of “what I have to do” and see this frame for what it is – something you feel compelled to do. Sometimes this compulsion is “your Why” but sometimes it is not. So let go and relook. 

Opening up

Opening up is a process of allowing other concepts, ideas and thoughts find their way into your consciousness.

This takes courage for many because it requires us to change our self-talk. Opening up and letting new ideas in and giving ourselves an open orientation requires us to also quiet the voices that might whisper “you can’t do that”. 

Looking deeper

Affectus has seen people not only do the above but also get their new Why between their teeth and dig. This is where the exploring your Why really kicks into gear.

Even in a 3-hour workshop we have seen people's enthusiasm and passion spur them on. They then work really hard to see their Why clearly. And they more deeply understand what is drawing them to their new understanding of their Why. This step takes honesty.   

Understanding Yourself

Many consider this simply about the individual. However,  in one of our recent Exploring Your Why workshops, participants found that understanding yourself was actually about understanding oneself in relation to others.

The powerful activity of stepping into the Circle of Why was full of information. Information about others:

  • that circle around our lives and therefore our Why
  • who will share in the Why
  • help with the Why
  • have the same or similar Why
  • be impacted by the Why.

And therefore understanding yourself is linked to…Sharing with others.

The concepts that we are providing here are not sequential they are present all the time during the why exploration. 

Over our many years of assisting leaders transform we have done research about the power and importance to “sharing”. Sharing where you are headed, what you have found. It is amazing how helpful it is to “share your Why”. 

We have seen these concepts swirling around in rooms where “Why explorers” are thinking, talking and imagining why. But we are convinced that to really get to your Why, then you need to bring them fully to the exploring experience. 

We have a number of Exploring Your Why workshops scheduled and now have 60 Explorers.

We invite you to come and Exploring Your Why with Affectus.  

What is Why made up of?

The Four Components of Exploring Your Why.

1. Values

In our last blog, we talked about the foundational component of Why, (values), and the essential connection between your values and your Why.

When Affectus works with teams to assist them to explore their Why we start with a values identification exercise. This session helps “explorers” understand the foundation of their Why. The values exercise then becomes a focused conversation with a peer to assist them to consolidate their thinking.

There are three other key components that we encourage our “explorers” to investigate.

2. Passion

The second component is passion.

We have developed a process for the harnessing of personal passion and enthusiasm. Keywords that assist in this part of the exploration of Why are:

  • on fire
  • humming
  • light you up.

It is surprising that the use of such words might make some explorers uncomfortable, however when these emotions are brought into a space of interest and openness the energy becomes enabling, eager and intense…the emotions of Why become present.

3. Gifts

The third component is to equip you with your gifts.

To visualise personal gifts and bravely hear others name your gifts unseen. A few theories of “unseen” and “unknown” assist to see clearly your gifts…the gifts you know you have and the gifts you hear others speak about you. The humbleness of exploring this part of yourself needs to be counter-balanced with pride and confidence.

4. Commitment

The fourth component is the “explorers” commitment.

This involves thinking through how can you be working in your Why more fully, more frequently, more consciously. This is a physical activity and an open communication activity. A powerful naming of your Why.

Exploring your Why is a revealing process, a powerful process. It is something we all should spend time doing.

You might like to share the video below with those you care about…it might assist them in their exploration of their Why.