AltanaESP Glossary

Purpose, structure and Usage of the A-Z Glossary

Strong people are made by opposition, like kites that go up against the wind. ~ Frank Harris ~

User Tools

Site Tools

Approved 23 February, 2022 @ 10:25am by Jan Viljoen (version: 5)


Before we can fittingly and reliably formulate a vision, mission, value and legacy statements, it is important that we start off with a WHY-declaration as a point of departure and a statement launching platform.

Many people hesitate when being confronted with a WHY-declaration and the reason is quite simple. They do not know what their real purpose in life is. They do not know why they are on this planet and what their contributions should be. Without knowing the real purpose behind our existence, we won't be motivated and happy. Without a WHY-declaration - the chances are almost 100% - that we will frequently experience 'Monday blues' and/or count down the number of weekdays left before the next weekend, the weeks to the next break or holiday. Now, the key questions that we should ask ourselves is…

  • Do I want to continue living my life this way? OR
  • Do I want to be eager and look forward to waking up every single day, sure about my mission in life?

There are three distinct phases when it comes to performing any task, obtain objectives or to achieve a goal. These are the…

  1. WHAT you are doing,
  2. HOW you are doing it and
  3. WHY you are doing it.

The first two are pretty straightforward. When explaining the what, how and why - in a simplistic manner - let's use the example of brushing one's teeth.

In the first place, WHAT the action is about, is quite obvious… you have to brush your teeth. The next, HOW you brush your teeth, is by taking a toothbrush with toothpaste on it and going in a circular motion, or whatever your parents/dentist has taught you over the years. Now comes the most important and challenging part… the WHY. Identifying the WHY behind brushing your teeth, is a rather simple exercise, because you do not want your breath to smell, or you want to get rid of the food that is stuck to prevent bacteria from damaging your teeth and gums or you want to have white sparkling teeth like a Hollywood star.

Using the same principle, a similar approach and reasoning in our current professional lives isn't always quite so straightforward and requires that we slow down and make time to clearly formulate our WHY declaration.

We have had a job for the past few years (WHAT), we are well-versed with the job's scope and know exactly HOW to perform the various tasks required, but the bigger question is… WHY am I spending most of my time and energy on this job? Am I content and truly happy, doing what I am currently doing? Do I feel fulfilled? Do I feel that I am achieving something worthwhile? Is there any other purpose to what I do, other than to make money and earn a living? Do others draw any value from what I am doing?

The only real way to attain fulfilment is to authentically understand what our true purpose in life is. When compiling our WHY declaration, we should steer clear of cryptic philosophical questions such as…

  • why are we here?”,
  • what is the meaning of life?” and/or
  • what is the purpose of life?

…because these questions will most likely end up being philosophical, argumentative and result in unhealthy thoughts and perspectives. Please keep in mind that every individual has the power to create their own unique purpose in life, and which shouldn't be influenced by others, even parents, teachers or closest friends. Because, this life is yours and yours alone.

Importance of a WHY-declaration

While we are exploring and compiling our personal WHY-declaration, we are giving our actions a lot of thought and gradually start to gain clarity regarding the purpose and meaning of our life. A clear, well defined, unambiguous and compelling WHY declaration, brings with it the following benefits…

  • Determines what you truly desire: In this case, instead of starting with the WHAT, learning the HOW and then discovering the WHY, consider doing it in reverse order. Commence with determining the WHYplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigI.e. your own unique, personal and once-off WHY-life matters to you!, because this will determine what you really want to achieve in life. Once we have found our WHY, we will naturally start setting goals and preparing ourselves to acquire the necessary skill sets to accomplish it.
  • Improved Focus: Face it, we are currently easily distracted, especially by technology and social media platforms. How many times does your phone interrupt activities at work? How frequently do you keep your phone on silent during a class, meeting or workshop… just in case? How often do you scroll through your Facebook messages or quickly tweet something? Habitually checking your emails? WhatsApp interruptions? With our WHY declaration, we will be clear about what our end goal is, and that tends to remove unnecessary distractions automatically. This does not imply that a WHY declaration will remove all distractions completely, but it will definitely place us in a much better frame of mind than what we previously had.
  • Improved Decision Making: The clarity of a compelling WHY-declaration will enable us to make better choices and take effective decisions for our lives. All choices and decisions, both small/big and simple/complicated, are covered here. Without true clarity in our lives, it is more likely that the decisions we take will not be the best ones. But when we evaluate all of your choices and decisions against our WHY-declaration, with questions such as… “Is this choice good for my life?” or “Will such a decision propel me to achieve my goals?” Or “Will it slow my progress and push me off track?
  • Greater Accountability:Drifters” are those people who merely float along with life. Whenever something goes wrong, these group of people normally are the first ones to raise their hand and say that they have no fault, and the fault lies in others, or the company, or the government, or modern society, …etc. They fail dismally to consider the consequences of the decisions they make. With a personal WHY-declaration, we are quite likely to consider the consequences of everything we say and do, and the impact that it will have on other people, our environment and/or the world.
  • Combat Procrastination: How many times have we said “Ah I’ll just do that later?” How many times have we pushed a task back because we are facing a problem or deadline? Procrastination is the main culprit here, and - to a greater or lesser extent - has probably been affecting us our entire lives. Knowing our WHY, will give us the courage, priority, urgency and grit to face whatever problems we bump into and solve them. The reason is simple… our end goal in life is clear and we will not stop or give up, because the end goal is something we really want to accomplish, our legacy so to speak.
  • Being Happier and Healthier: It is a real “Eureka” moment to establish our true purpose in life. Doing this will allow us to look forward to the future with a high degree of certainty. This will have a dramatic effect on our happiness, because we finally have clarity and we are no longer stuck in our lives. There have been several studies conducted that indicate that when an individual knows his/her life purpose, there is a significant positive impact on his/her health. When we are happier, we tend to be healthier. When we are optimistic about our future, it will give our health a boost as well!

Exploring and Compiling a WHY-declaration

When we understand the many benefits of creating our WHY-declaration, it is time to jump right into action! This is not going to be a stroll in a park, the exercise will be mentally and emotionally draining, but - in the long run - rest assured that it is going to be well worth the time and effort. When we determine and realize our WHY, we also discover our life’s true purpose and that will allow us to shape our lives exactly as we want it to be. This won't happen overnight, it will require dedicated Me-time for at least two weeks and after that, it is not the end yet, because as we evolve, grow and develop, so our personal WHY-declaration must also be adjusted, adapted and tweaked accordingly in order to either limit or avoid burnout, future shock and psychic wounds.

The most effective way to explore and discover our WHY, is by asking ourselves specific questions, which could be refined into the following 12 key questions that will help usplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigPlease do not rush through these questions. Find a quiet place before starting this exercise, because it is going to take a lot of focus. As you go through the questions, think deep and put your thoughts on paper or in a journal. At the end of it, determine the similarities and differences in your answers, which will provide a good indication of your WHY. to compile and formulate a clear WHY declaration!

  1. How can I improve the lives of others?
  2. What are the things I do that seem to make time pass quickly?
  3. When I was a kid, what did I really enjoy doing?
  4. What am I willing to do even, if it makes me look stupid?
  5. What are some of the things that people turn to you for help?
  6. If time was running out, what would you do?
  7. What are you prepared to go the extra mile for?
  8. If I have the opportunity to teach people, what would the topic be?
  9. What are the things that you are currently paid for that you would be willing to do for free?
  10. What are other people grateful to you for?
  11. What would you do if money wasn’t a concern and you believe that you can achieve anything?
  12. What is your fondest memory as a child?

If you do not start doing something different today, do you really think that your life will be any different tomorrow?