The Four Why’s You Need to Answer
“Start with Why” is pretty common advice, but it’s hard to follow. It wasn’t until Tamsen had a conversation with Nilofer Merchant that things shifted into place for her. She said, “change doesn’t happen until we understand the context in which it happens.” In other words, our Why is contextual. The good news is that that’s what the Red Thread is all about: making visible the invisible context for your idea and the change that you’re trying to create.
The first Why is: Why are you doing this? Why do you want to get your idea out there? What are the outcomes that you’re looking for? These answers can be your touchstone when the going gets tough. The second Why is: Why would other people care? This is the Goal Statement in your Red Thread, the thing that other people want.
The third Why you might recognize: Why haven’t they been getting their Goal? This is the Problem Statement in the Red Thread, the incomplete perspective that is getting in the way. Finally, the fourth Why is a deeper one: Why does the problem bother you so much? This is also known as the Idea Statement, it’s that core belief that drives the Change. Put all four Why’s together and you’ll have an irresistible path directly to your idea.
Most of us have heard that phrase, “start with why.” And I agree, so if it’s so important why is it so hard to find your why? I know why! Because there’s not one why, there’s four, at least four. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com and that’s what we’re talking about this week on Find The Red Thread.
If you’ve ever tried to find your why, tried to find your singular purpose, your singular passion, then, well if you’re anything like me, that wasn’t easy. And it wasn’t easy because, well, I don’t like to get pinned into one thing. And it wasn’t until I had a conversation with my friend Nilofer Merchant where she really said something that cleared it up for me. She said, “change doesn’t happen unless we understand the context in which it happens.” In other words, our why, our why of doing something is contextual so we always have to understand the context in order to find our why.
So the good news here, though, is that we have the tools to do that because that’s what the Red Thread is all about. It’s about making visible this invisible context for your idea, for the change that you’re trying to create in the world. So how do we find all of those why’s? Well, if we look at it, I think you can probably find them in any order, but there are four to find.
The first, and it may be the easiest one to answer, is why are you doing this? Why do you want to get your idea out there, why do you want to start a business, why do you want to develop a new talk, why do you want to get this message out to your employees or staff? So you’re looking for here the outcomes that you are looking for, personally. What are the things that are coming back to you as a result? Alright, is that more customers, is that more awareness, is that higher speaking fees? You need to understand why you’re doing this in order to reattach that sometimes when the going gets tough. You’re saying to yourself, “Oh right, this is why I’m doing this.”
Now, the second why to make sure that you have an answer to is why would other people care? Now this is in the Red Thread method, the Goal Statement. This is what your audience, your customers, your prospects want that your idea can readily help them get. Now it’s not the deeper underlying thing, remember that’s something else. That’s going to come as a result of the method. You really understand why they would look for you, why they would care. So what is the unmet need that you’re meeting, that they know about? What is the goal you’re helping them achieve? What is the problem they’re trying to solve, that they’re looking to solve? That’s the second why.
Now, the third why is why you think people haven’t been getting that yet. So this is the why of the Problem Statement in the Red Thread method. It’s the why of incomplete perspective. It’s the thing that you see that other people don’t seem to see. It’s the why you see the world in a different way. So it’s this perspective that explains why other people’s approaches either don’t make sense to you or don’t make sense to the people whom you’re for.
Now, the fourth why is a deeper why, and I think to some extent this is what Simon Sinek was talking about in his great TED Talk, why great leaders, or, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” The why in this case is why the problem bothers you so much. Yes, of course, this is the Idea Statement, but what is it, what do you believe, what do you know to be true about the world as you see it, about the problem you’re trying to solve, about the people that you’re serving? Why does it bother you, what is that core belief?
See, in any given situation where you’re trying to make a change, it’s all four of those why’s that create the context. Why you’re doing it, why they would care, why you think that there’s a different way to get there, why you see a different way to get there, and why you care about that different way. When those things all add together, the change became clear to you in the past and it will become clear to other people in the future.
So if you’re trying to find your why or you’re just trying to explain your why to other people, make sure that you have found all four and they’ll understand exactly why to find your idea irresistible. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. Thanks so much for watching this episode of Find The Red Thread.