One Word for Focus and Purpose

Siri Can't Help

People who live without asking this question fulfill other people’s dreams.

Their own dreams die, never realized.


Companies who exist without asking this question function solely as money-making machines, destined to crumble after 10-15 years of success.

They never aspired to a greater focus and purpose.


Writers, sculptors, singers, dancers, painters, designers, marketers, actors and artists of every medium and hue never create what they were meant to create if they don’t ask this ever important question.

  • They live day to day derailed from their purpose.
  • Their dreams are shrouded in a hazy, self-manufactured fog.
  • They blame others for their unhappiness.

 Who wants to live this way?


Living IMAX

If our lives are movies, many of us are living IMAX style.

We have all the extras. The stuff. The things. The superfluity. A lot of fireworks, but no real focus.

What if?

+What if instead of living an overwhelmed IMAX-style life, we started smaller?

+What if in our projects, our families, or work, our training sessions, our painting, our                                     , we went on a quest to answer the single most important question one can ever ask?

+What if we knew our focus and purpose for every marketing campaign, every creative process, and every sale we sought to make?

What if we asked ‘why’?


Why ask Why?

Asking ‘why’ is a motivation revealer. It’s a BS cutter-through-er. It’s clarity. It’s difinitive.

So here’s the other grand question: why don’t we ask why?

We don’t ask why because it’s painful when we’ve been living the IMAX life. Asking why can hurt. It brings the fog of purposeless living into light and starts to dispel it.

And that’s exactly what needs to happen.

Think of those hazy morning drives when the sun is just beginning to creep over the horizon. The fog only remains the whole day (read “entire life”) if the sunlight never makes an appearance.

But bring the sunlight-scorching ‘why’ into the haze and immediately the fog evaporated under the light’s power.


Focus and Purpose

A few ‘why’ prompts…

Why are you at work today?

-5 points if you say ‘to earn money.’ +5 points for a clearer focus and purpose.

Why do you create?

-5 points for ‘huh?’ +45 points for ‘to                    .

Something definitive.

Why do you             fill in the blank                .

-1,000,000 points for a vague purpose. +1,000,000 for succinct clarity.


Why ask why?

(For more on this topic check out this inspiring TED talk by Simon Sinek and this post on mission statements.)



Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • Great post Andrew. The “why” is the most important question we need to ask. I love your IMAX analogy. It’s like we are so caught up in the technology and the apps that we forget to ask if the message is worthwhile. To borrow from Jurassic Park, Dr. Ian Malcolm suggested that before the genetic scientists answered the “why” (before they even knew what they had) they created a disaster (they packaged it and sold it).

    • Andrew Zahn

      *leaving work to go watch Jurassic park*

  • First of all, that Siri picture is brilliant and hilarious 🙂
    Second, I love the “why” thoughts… You can’t know HOW to achieve what you’re after until you understand why you’re after it. I mean, you can, but a lot of luck would be involved!

    • Andrew Zahn

      Siri sometimes isn’t all that helpful right?!

  • I’m in the process of answering that question for myself. Hope to have it defined by April 9.

    • Andrew Zahn

      What’s happening on April 9? Is that the missions trip?

      I’m headed over to your blog Larry…

  • At my interview for my very first newspaper reporter job in the early ’90s, I nearly didn’t get the job. Why? The publisher put out a hypothetical situation: A city council member had commissioned a bronze statue of himself to display in the public square. I was asked what questions I would ask him if I were assigned to the story. I had the Who, What and Where, but forgot the Why! The publisher must’ve felt sorry for me, seeing how eager and nervous I was, because I still got the job.

    The irony is, in the series of writing jobs that led from there, The Firm frowned on “too many” whys. Just get the task done and move on to the next one. Twenty years later, working for myself, I not only can ask WHY, I get to say, “Because I said so.”

    • Andrew Zahn

      You’ve earned the right to say ‘because I said so!” Nice.

      Curious: any more thoughts about doing a podcast version of some of your blog posts?

  • What a needed post for myself and many. The “why” is so important. Everyone should ask themselves why they are doing something. It also can point you into doing things of value. I really liked this post.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Thanks for dropping in Dan!

  • Ken Stewart

    You are a fine provocateur of thought, Andrew. Ya make us go all thinky and stuff.

    Ergo, I’m thinking: Isn’t one’s focus different from one’s purpose? What if one focuses on making tons of money in order to support a cause with real purpose (say, an orphanage in India)?

    Purpose seems to answer the “why”; focus seems to aim at “how”.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Now who’s the thought provocateur?

      It’s very true, what you say, I do agree that you’d need both and would need other people to give you input. Hence the purpose for this post and how much I appreciate your comment Ken!

  • This.

    This is.

    This is what.

    This is what I.

    This is what I love:

    Probing the boundaries of sense and nonsense on the way to truth.

    That, if anything, is my purpose in blogging. That what appears, prima facie, to be random, is anything but. The content may vary wildly, but there is a consistent voice behind it all.

    The why for me boils down to: I write because I love it.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Preach. If we did things from a place of love rather than a place of obligation/duty we’d all live more inspiring lives.

      Thanks for what you do Chad.


      I love.

      I love it!

  • I was thinking it would be written and then read rather than extemporaneous. I haven’t been to a Toastmasters session in ages so I might have reverted to verbal crutches like “um” and “ah” without realizing it. Having a “script” would ensure flow.

    What if I read it in parts, broken up in segments by pictures? Would that defeat the multitasking goal?

    I’d start with several posts in the archives and write an introductory post about this new offering. That way new readers could sample past work and older readers can experience the posts in a new way.

    All that hinges on my Macbook Pro resurrecting! File structure corruption. Leopard OS disk no longer being made, and mine is missing. Will look for one on eBay. The hubby’s Asus tablet is just not a suitable substitute for my familiar Mac.

  • Another post that has pressed the pause button to give me time to ponder the whys rather than the whats or hows. Thanks again