Do You Have a Why?


Posted by Coach Mark Turner


In a really great moment from the 2015 IRONMAN Texas video, a man in the midst of his run is asked why he is racing. His response is, “for my kids.” He is then asked “why, what does that mean?” His voice breaking, he replies, “To show them anything is possible.” That familiar tag line from the world of IRONMAN is really more than just a slogan. It lies at the heart of everything that makes the endurance world special. And it starts with why.

In Simon Sinek's book by the same title, “Start with Why,” the author offers a compelling argument that organizations and individuals who grasp the “why” of what they are doing produce vastly different results than those who begin with “what.” This is exactly why I as a coach, when I first interact with a new athlete, make sure to ask for their “why.” Because “why” they want to do a particular event or take on endurance sports is most often more important than what particular event they have or plan to sign up for.



I am convinced that asking “why” is vital to revisit with coaching clients (and myself) on a frequent basis. The reason for my conviction in this area is rooted in my experience that it is the compelling “why” of a particular goal or life mission that will provide the necessary consistent motivation to remain focused on the objective and limit being derailed. If the “why” is not compelling or simply doesn't exist at all and the focus becomes only “what,” then the process becomes solely results oriented rather than process focused. The mission itself, the doing of the consistent work necessary to accomplishing the goal, which will account for the vast majority of time investment toward the goal, will not have its own intrinsic value. The result will be lackluster and unfocused commitment toward a stated goal. Consistency, the behavioral hallmark of achievement, will suffer first and most drastically.

Simply put, if you don't have a “why” or a “why” that is not clear and strong enough, then the vision for what success will truly look like will suffer, and that early long set swim, or that long trainer ride, or that lonely second long run of the day, or that note of encouragement you know you should write... all will simply be left undone.

Do you have a why? If not, maybe it is time to consider “why.”

~ Coach Mark Turner

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