What’s your why?

Blog | July 28, 2020

A great first place to start when trying to find inner ground when we are triggered is with our WHY. When I say our why, I mean, our inner driver, our purpose, our priority.

When we know our why, when we come back to our why, we can make more informed decisions. We can prioritize our why in how we respond. We can anchor in our why when we are feeling triggered. Having a personal why is exactly like an organization having a vision, a north star, a mission to work towards. Our personal why is our own north star and is just as important as an organization’s why.

BUT how do we know what our why is? Sometimes it is not that obvious, just like an organization’s why. Sometimes we have to dig deep in ourselves to understand what drives us.

I was coaching a client recently, who was constantly feeling like an imposter in her role despite having extensive experience and knowledge in her field. This is someone who the company valued and wanted to invest in; they hired me to work with her. Yet, whenever she got into a meeting with her boss, she lost her footing. She failed to push back on things she knew were unrealistic and conflicted with the team’s priorities. She would say yes to everything afraid that pushing back would imply her own incompetence.

My client would be triggered simply by her boss’s presence. A place we started was her why.

What made her stay at Company X?

She wanted to be surrounded by smart people and do interesting work. The company mattered to her less than the people she worked with and feeling valued for the work she did.

What was important to her about this role?

It gave her an opportunity to flex her muscles in a senior leadership capacity. She got to mentor others instead of simply leveraging her technical skills. She got to partner cross-functionally to influence the product at a much more senior level.

What did she want to get from her career?

She wanted to have an impact and make a difference. This company was not necessarily providing her an opportunity to do so, but it was providing a great stepping stone to getting there. The moment it stopped being a great stepping stone was the moment she could decide to leave.

The more we spoke about her why, the more empowered she became. The less she felt like a victim to the company’s whims and the clearer she felt about her role and her contribution to the company.

The more she knew her own why, the more grounded she could be in the room with her boss.

She was less fearful about being an imposter and more interested in being a thought partner to her boss in order to get the right things done.

Getting the right things done was exactly what I was hired to help her with.

It’s amazing – when a leader knows their “why” they actually become a stronger asset to the company. When a leader knows their why, they are less triggered, they are less reactive, they partner better with others, they make clearer and more informed decisions.

What’s your why?

(Hint: see what happens when you provide your own answers to the questions above)

When you lose your emotional footing, start with coming back to your why.

If you are interested in learning more about identifying your why and leveraging it to ground you in triggering situations, sign up for Next Level Impact, a program that provides you the tools to successfully navigate your emotions and show up with presence and influence in important relationships across your company.

Rachel Rider
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant