Why Statement


“We believe that all students  can learn and should be provided with skills to achieve academic success as well as success in life.” 

As I reflect on this statement, it seems a little strange that there isn’t a data goal that we are trying to achieve.  After all, isn’t data the driving force behind improvement? Or is it?   

The Behavioral Scientist guys  proved that data doesn’t change behavior.  People already understand the data, but we don’t make decisions based on data. We make decisions based upon the heart. Mahatma Gandhi said, “the difference between what we are doing, and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world’s problems.”  We know what the issues are, we don’t act unless our hearts are tugged.  According to Tom Asaker, the facts have to support our personal truths.  If our personal truths are supported, then we form desire that will cause us to move. If we go back to the Behavioral Scientist guys, they showed us boys telling people to stop smoking using data.  Their efforts were unsuccessful until they asked an influential question that made the people examine their hearts.  

In the video, The Heart of Change, John Kotter points out that the hearts must be won over if you are trying to change an organization.  Kotter points out that if you feel differently you will think differently. Kotter also goes far enough to say that if you’re changing an organization, you have to create a sense of urgency. In order to create a sense of urgency for change, you have to root out anxiety, anger, and complacency. The only way to do that is to get to the heart.  Many companies fail, because they prioritize data instead of the heart.

Before we move on, take a moment to reconsider the “Why statement” above.  Can you name one teacher that would openly argue against students being successful academically and in life?  If you can find one, then they are in the wrong profession.  THEY KNOW THE TRUTH OF THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE IN THEIR HEARTS and I dont need to give them data to back it up. 

“We will provide authentic learning opportunities that give students ownership and voice using Project Based Learning which will allow students to work through a rigorous yet authentic curriculum.” 

As you read the next paragraph, consider why my “how” statement is secondary to my “why” statement.

Simon Sinek argues that people buy why you do what you do, they don’t buy what you do.  His argument is based on what he calls the Golden Circle.  He argues that successful people and companies work from the inside of the circle out.  That is, they tell you their “why” first, and then they tell you their “how” and “what”.  Sinek argues that most companies do the opposite, that is they start on the outside of the Golden Cirlce and work their way back in.  Schools are no different.  We usually start of by telling you what we are going to do, then we tell you why.  Think about that method in the dating world.  My wife wanted to know why I wanted to be with her, and why she should be with me, long before the “what” came along.  Only after she considered the “why” was I able to tell her that I was going to pick her up at 8, we were going to go to a party, etc.  In short the why came before the how.  In fact, if the why was not presented properly, there would not be a “how” or “what”.  Sinek points to the science of the brain to defend his argument.  The limbic portion of the brain controls feelings, trust, loyalty and decisions.  That portion of the brain is spoken to directly by your “why” statement.   Kotter’s research has shown him and his teams that  90% of businesses that are going through significant change will fail in their changeover campaigns for two reasons.  First, they don’t try to win over the heart of the employees, which will cause them to feel differently.  Second, businesses do not provide a sense of urgency to their employees.  As a result of organizations missing out on the heart  issue, employees become anxious, angry or complacent, which are all things that could lead to the failure of the business.

“Our students will use the skills they have learned in the Project Based Learning environment to become college and career ready students that demonstrate responsible citizenship.”  

The statement above is a great statement, but not the best one to open up with.  You haven’t even gotten me to commit, and you are already telling me what to do.  According to Kotter, we should target the feeling portion at a level of at least 60% and the mind comes in at 40%.  Think about a salesperson who is only telling you what they are going to do.  You walk away from the pitch thinking that they only have their own best interest at heart.  Just like with dating, once I’ve satisfied your “why”, and then let her know “how”, now is the perfect time for the “what”.  Think about it, if you open up with the what (marriage, kids, 3 dogs and a minivan), you will seem creepy.  Ask your partner, how did you know?  They will tell you, “it was that time when…” or   as Simon Sinek says, they may have felt it in their gut.  I would like to take a moment to propose an idea.  If the “why” statement really pulls at the heart strings, and the “how” statement is correct, many times the people who have accepted your message can tell you the “what”.  In order to communicate properly, you still have to have your “what” statement, but let’s consider the dating example for a moment.  After your partner’s heart was won over, they may have become more eager than you to fulfill your shared vision of happily ever after.  

Take a moment and look over my Innovation Plan. The plan explains the “How” and “What” statements in greater detail.


All Washed Up! (2009, September 21). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/osUwukXSd0k

Amber. “Positive Thinking.” Amber Barnes, Amber Http://Amberbarnes.com/Wp-Content/Uploads/Copy-of-ABs-Logo2F-Icon-2.Png, 6 Sept. 2012, amberbarnes.com/5-tips-to-quit-complaining-and-start-creating/positive-thinking-2.

Change Behavior- Change the World: Joseph Grenny at TEDxBYU. (2013, April 26). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/6T9TYz5Uxl0

Grenny, D. Maxfield, A. Shimberg. (2013). How to 10X your influence. Vital Smarts, 1-13. Retrieved from https://www.vitalsmarts.com/resource/10x-your-influence/

How to Change People Who Don’t Want to Change: The Behavioral Science Guys. (2015, January 05). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/9ACi-D5DI6A

Influencer: Cricket Buchler. (2012, December 17). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/wu7UBY5euBg

Influencer: The new science of leading change: 2nd ed. (2013). McGraw-Hill Education.

John Kotter – The Heart of Change. (2011, March 23). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1NKti9MyAAw

Kerry Patterson. Joseph Grenny. Ron McMillan. Al Switzler. (2012). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high, second edition. McGraw-Hill.

Leading Change: Establish a Sense of Urgency. (2013, August 15). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/2Yfrj2Y9IlI

McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2016). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. Free Press.

Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive the surprising truth about what motivates us. Riverhead Books.

Sinek, S. (2013). Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. Portfolio/Penguin.

Start With Why – Simon Sinek TED talk. (2013, September 29). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/sioZd3AxmnE

Three Myths of Behavior Change – What You Think You Know That You Don’t: Jeni Cross at TEDxCSU. (2013, March 20). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/l5d8GW6GdR0Why TED Talks don’t change people’s behaviors: Tom Asacker at TEDxCambridge 2014. (2014, June 30). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/W0jTZ-GP0N4