the first step to your change initiative

Have you found that your resolutions and efforts to improve keep fizzling out?  It could be because you didn’t do this one thing first.

Discover your big WHY.

A few years ago I met former Navy SEAL, Len Same. Len is known for saying that “BHAGs are great, BHOWs are better.” I knew about BHAGs…big hairy audacious goals…popularized by Jim Collins in his bestseller Good to Great.

But, I hadn’t heard of a BHOW. Len said graciously, “Don’t worry, I made it up. It’s a Big Hilarious Outrageous Why.” He said, “BHAGs are great for getting people fired up, but it’s the BHOW that will bring you through a firefight.”

I found this idea intriguing, but a little out of reach.

After all, I’ve never been in a firefight and no one tries to kill me at work. Nonetheless, I began talking about WHY with leaders in the workplace and discovered something disturbing.

Most people are completely oblivious to their big why.

Of the first several hundred people I talked to…not a single person had it written down. Some could quote a corporate mission statement, but not their own. So what is a big WHY and how do you find it?

Here, I must say, ‘to each his own.’ I can’t give you your big why. But, I’m happy to share my thoughts. I believe that if your big why involves money, possessions, or status, you haven’t found it yet.  There is nothing wrong with them…perhaps they are little why’s.  But, not your big why.

Ask yourself…
* What is more important than your job?
* What is more important than your comfort?
* What is more important than your happiness?

If you are one who believe your career, comfort, and happiness are your eternal reason for being, I would simply challenge you to keep peeling the onion.

Assess your talents, your beliefs, and your passions…the very things that make you who you are. At the core, you will find your identity.  And in your identity, your purpose.   Don’t think about your change effort as becoming someone else.  Think of it as being who you are meant to be.

Recall the SEALs.  Candidates are not encouraged to endure their training.  Quite the opposite. They are encouraged to quit. They are enticed to quit. They are begged to quit. Every comfort is stripped from their lives.

The candidates who endure are those who discover who they are meant to be.

Write down your big why and revisit it often.


QUESTION. If you have discovered your purpose in life, I’d love to know how it was revealed to you. How has that discovery helped you sustain behavior change?