So if you’re here, it’s because someone’s asked you to be their partner for their WHY discovery process. And maybe you’ve already said yes… maybe you’re on the fence. Regardless, it would probably be useful to know a little more about the process.
Find Your WHY is a course developed by Simon Sinek. It’s based around the idea that each of us has a purpose, something that gets us out of bed in the morning, our primary motivation – our WHY. And even though we each have a WHY, often we don’t take the time to put it into words.
Through this process, your friend is trying to put their WHY into words. This way they can better understand the reasons some jobs, environments, and relationships make them feel fulfilled, while others don’t. By understanding what drives them, they can work towards living a life of fulfillment and passion.
Part of this process is done through the telling of stories. But you can’t tell stories alone, which is why they’re asking you for help.
During the process of being their partner, they’ll share a handful of stories that they feel are significant and meaningful to them. Basically, memories of people and moments that mattered to them. And then you’ll talk about them. Simple as that.
The two of you will dig deeper into the stories to unpack what the storyteller values and believes in. You’ll look for common threads and patterns between the times they felt at their best and even the stories where they may have struggled. Ultimately, you’ll be there to listen and provide a vital outside perspective.
The whole process takes between one and three hours. And though in person is always ideal, video conferencing also works.
So let whoever sent you this know if you’re interested. And if you are, we’ve put a few tips for being a great partner below.
Tips for Being a Great Partner
Embrace the Silence
Above anything else, your job is to help your friend tell their stories. And oftentimes, our instinct is to jump in when someone pauses or stops talking to show that we’re still engaged and that we care. But if you let these silences sit, oftentimes the storyteller will continue talking and go deeper into what matters about the story.
Try just letting these moments happen. Silence can be your friend. You can even try phrases like “Go on” or “Tell me more” to encourage them to keep going in these moments.
Ask Open Ended Questions
Finding your WHY is a deeply personal endeavor. While a partner is essential to the process, you cannot lead someone else to their WHY. It takes the two of you working together in a team.
When you ask questions, try to keep them as open-ended as possible. Asking open-ended questions allows your storyteller to dig deeper into the meaning behind their words. Questions like “What about that story stuck with you?” and “How did you feel after that happened?” give the storyteller space to continue without pushing them in any direction.
As you go through the process, you may form a theory about their WHY. But if you only ask questions that affirm your theory, you may lead them down a path that’s not theirs. Even a simple question like - “Did it make you feel angry when that happened?” – can affect the way a storyteller feels about their story.
As a rule of thumb, if it can be answered by “yes” or “no”, it’s probably not open-ended.
Avoid Asking ‘Why’ Questions
Now, this may seem counterintuitive, because the storyteller is trying to find their WHY. But asking questions that start with the word ‘why’ can actually be counterproductive.
‘Why questions’ often elicit emotional responses and this can sometimes de-rail a story, or change how the storyteller feels in the moment. If you start your questions with ‘What’ and ‘How’, you’ll often get more rational answers that will allow you to dig deeper into the story.
For instance, imagine asking a teenager - “Why were you home so late?” You’ll likely get an emotional or even defensive reply. Imagine if instead, you asked “What happened that meant you were home so late?”. It invites them to share the information in a rational way, and ultimately will help you find out what happened.
Make Sure They Feel Comfortable
Above everything else, your job is to make them feel safe and heard. Whatever you need to do to guarantee that, go for it.
Wabi sabi is a Japanese design concept. It means beauty in that which is temporary or imperfect. Things that come off of an assembly line, for example, are perfect, but things made by hand, like the glaze on a Japanese ceramic bowl, are imperfect. It is their imperfections that give them their beauty.
The same is true for people. It is the combination of all of our imperfections that make us vulnerable and beautiful.
We love the idea of wabi sabi as a metaphor for the work we do. Our work centers around this idea of life as a journey. That we are all working to become better versions of ourselves. The idea of a “work in progress” is also the strategy for our website.
You’ll see little things that are imperfect—the size of images next to each other, for example, or the hand drawn elements. We wanted our site to reflect the journey of constant improvement we are all on—as leaders, as organizations and as individuals. We believe that it is the imperfections that make it feel human, and beautiful.