The Iteration of Why

The more I examine my NOT to do list, the more I notice the themes in criteria between my peak positive experiences, and also between my negative experiences. It has become a real proving ground for me to hone my WHY.

What I’ve noticed is that there is a direct feedback loop between my actions, and my purpose (my WHY). That is, the clearer I get on my WHY (and WHY NOT), the more I find myself having peak positive experiences. And the more peak positive experiences I have, the more volition I bring to my actions, which feeds right back into honing my purpose. A virtuous circle indeed!

As I design and deliver even more workshops and trainings to facilitate and embed change, I continually challenge my own thinking and the way that I DO. What that means is that both the reason I do things, and the way that I do them is iterative.


My why is really clear, but it is a little bit more fluid than just declaring this is my purpose and allowing it to remain static. My purpose is to easily connect people to things they already know, using really simple techniques.

I am so lucky (#blessed #grateful ) to work with clients who challenge me to bring my best, and who facilitate my growth beyond what I could possibly achieve alone. I believe we never get given challenges we aren’t ready for but we sometimes have to grow into the solution!

For me the big learning has been getting really clear about my deepest core beliefs. That is, my purpose is still important, but how I go about achieving it can be really different. This evolution of WHY is a new leg to the stool of finding purpose. The thinking that sits behind the purpose must also evolve to be congruent as my way of working evolves.


What I notice as I grow, is that I am becoming even more flexible in HOW and WHERE I Do-The-Do, with different clients and in different environments. It might seem like a small change but the difference it makes is exponential.

Let me give you a tangible example;

Let’s say I decide to do something that isn’t on my HELL YES list. There needs to be a good reason.

For example, I deliver a training that I don’t love, but it allows me to implement and calibrate a new model. Or, I do a piece of work for someone that isn’t super exciting, but it is financially rewarding. That then increases my future capacity to do even more Hell Yes activities, and expands the scope of what I enjoy.

Some of my difficult clients have taught me so much about what’s important to me, I just have to adapt my way of working for their environment. This has prompted me to evolve my thinking and to be flexible in different ways, always with the purpose of connecting people to what they already know, using really simple techniques. But I have to develop a new HOW to make these connections because what worked in the past may not work in this new environment.

It’s like an ascending spiral, as WHAT and HOW I work evolves, it elevates my WHY. And as with the ascension in purpose and action, so change my problems!


Whenever we solve a problem (through evolving WHY and HOW) we create a new one. And we should always be creating a higher value problem.

For example, I solve the problem of working in a difficult environment, but need to adapt my HOW so that it lands in this different context. I now have a much higher quality problem because I am growing & learning continually as a trainer & facilitator, with the new challenge of needing to vary my approach.

In a training context, I solve the problem of a challenging client by adapting the way that I work so that HOW I train is a better fit for how they think. My higher quality problem is now that I need to incorporate my new way of working into my existing content, and I also now have a whole new demographic that can learn this simple technique.

This thinking has helped me to establish clear criteria around when to be flexible and when to walk away. And it’s not always simple cause and effect. By constantly evolving and choosing, the environment is never static. Do I take a challenging client and learn a lot? Or work with people who I am completely aligned with, and still learn but perhaps not as much?

It’s a bit of an inception moment; I have a growth mindset, but I have a fixed mindset about people who don’t have a growth mindset. Then I have to make a choice: Do I want to be in their world? Do I choose to adapt to new environments, challenges, or people? Do I learn to work in a different way? And does that next iteration of HOW I do it, still feed back into my WHY?


An Agile mindset means continually reflecting and iterating to move toward becoming more effective. And effectiveness in this instance means moving towards an even higher level of peak experiences, and being purposeful in WHAT we do so that we can continually refine WHY and HOW we do it.

Stepping back and reviewing the emerging criteria for my To Do, and Not to Do lists is an incredibly powerful guiding light to help me make those decisions. To be clear, if every day sucks then you are not evolving. Sometimes the solution isn’t obvious, because we need to grow into it. And that can feel uncomfortable.

My challenge to you this month is to identify a challenge that has evolved for you, and notice;

  • Why did I change my thinking about this issue?
  • What is different, now, about my approach?
  • How can I apply this to a stagnant or recurring problem?



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About Emma Sharrock

Emma is the author of The Agile Project Manager: Thrive in Change with Agile. An experienced change leader, Emma is passionate about working with people to facilitate successful change. Emma utilises Agile techniques, coupled with the Agile mindset to coach leaders and teams to achieve their business goals.