I am My WHY


Like it or not, here are my AHAs.
To quote Popeye: I am what I am

Why or why not? That is the question. Why do I do some things and don’t feel as compelled do other things? After getting certified by the Why.OS group, I uncovered some answers. Most of us are driven by a commitment to ideas, workplace values, and attracted to a sense of belonging to organizations.

Simon Sinek (2009) wrote ‘Start with Why.’ Although, being in agreement with what Sinek wrote, using the theory was more challenging. After taking the survey that concept became more meaningful to me. The survey is about work habits and what draws people to certain positions. This is NOT a personality assessment.

Here is a short description of what the www.WHYInstitute.com
publishes to help people identify their own WHY, their own HOW, and their own WHAT. Dan Dominguez, Why Institute and Betty Burks, colleague have been most helpful in providing guidance and support.

9 Why Characteristics

1. To Contribute. Focus on a Greater Cause, Make a Difference, Add Value or Have an Impact. These people want to be part of a greater cause, they contribute to the greater good, and work on teams that have similar values. They are reliable and committed to a vision.
2. Trust. Create relationships based on Trust. Being trustworthy is a strong value and want to work with people and organizations that are trusting. You can count on them to do the right thing. Their words and actions are closely aligned. You can count on these people. Their word is their bond.
3. Make Sense Out of Things. People in this category typically take complicated issues and make it easier to understand the situation. They are looking to create situations and solutions that will help them and others. They are solution oriented and very helpful in solving organizational problems. If it makes sense to these people, it will probably make better sense to others
4. To Find a Better Way and Share it. These people are learning omnivores. They are constantly searching for better ways to do things. If you want continual improvement, count of these people to find a way. They also like sharing with others. They use the reverse Las Vegas Effect. If it goes on here, TELL EVERYBODY.
5. Right Way. Right Way people want to find out the best way accomplish tasks. Every detail will be planned for and implemented. They want the best results and are looking for ways to make sure that happens on a repeated basis. If you need structures and processes that are replicable, you want these people.
6. Challenge the Status Quo. If you want creativity and innovation, these are the people you are looking for and want on your team. If what exists is not working or not working as well as you expect, put these people on the task. They are able to bring in ideas from multiple sources and apply them to new situations. Because of their diversity of interests, they can see things others often don’t. If you want alternative points of view, ask them, they will tell you.
7. Mastery. Sometimes frustrating to others, people with this characteristic will stay focused until they know everything, every detail, and every piece of information. It may take some time, but they will ‘get it right.’ If you want experts in a field of study, they are a great fit.
8. Clarity. Think of the best communication person in the world. Clarity is their expertise. They can use written, verbal, media, stories, metaphors, etc. to get their point across. Remember, communication is what the receiver hears, not necessarily what you send out. These are master communicators. They make the message clear and meaningful.
9. Simplify. When procedures and processes get complex because of adding things over time, these individuals can see ways to make it simple, more understandable, and save time. As the former GM CEO, Mary Barra demonstrated simplify by taking multiple pages of a dress code and reduce it to: ‘Dress Appropriately.’

In a work group it is helpful to know what drives other team members, their own WHY – HOW – WHAT. This can be extremely useful in assigning tasks, creating teams with multiple skills, and moving the organizational vision forward.

The following is an example of the process I experienced:

When finding ‘my why’ it resonated. Contribute to a Greater Cause, Make a Difference, Add Value or Have an Impact was the initial description. Most educators want to make a difference for students and the community at large. Educators believe in a better future and want young people to be prepared for the VUCA world we live in. The potential downside is taking on too many things.

The second most important to me was ‘challenge.’ This is ‘my How.’ How I contribute is by challenging things that are not working or not working as well as it could be. Again, another AHA moment. I must admit this is me! The good news is standing up for equity, strong values, and modeling what is important. The not so good news it can be political peril depending upon the supervisor.

Third most important for me was identified as ‘Better Way.’ Early in my career, as a teacher, my principal said, ‘you are smart, but you never stop and smell the roses.’ Guilty. Being older and more mature, I am better at noticing the good things. I do exhibit more patience. In some things I am even less patient. I am not perfect by any means. Of course, a possible concern is jumping to another solution too fast.

It is true, I look to improve ways of learning for me and others. Freedom to me is about options and not being trapped. As a former high school principal, I always was amused by a student saying, ‘Can’t wait until I am 18 so nobody will tell me what to do.’ HA. My response was, depending upon my age, ‘I am 70 (75 now) and people are still telling me what to do.’

I do have a close fourth which is building relationships based on trust. All 9 Whys have positives about them and all 9 Whys have some cautions to be aware of.

So, here is my signature under my name on email.

Bill’s WHY is success happens when I contribute to ourselves and others. HOW I do that is to challenge status quo when what we do isn’t as effective as it once was. WHAT I want is to find a better way & share it with those around me. Certified WHY.os Professional

If you are interested in finding your own WHY, feel free to contact me for survey for a nominal fee. Put WHY in the subject line so I know it is not a spam, scam, or sham.


Shift Happens. If you don't adopt New Rules, drop the "f" in Shift!