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  • Writer's pictureJessica Childs

Naming The Hard Why

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

To name something is to breathe power into it.

A few weeks ago, I listened to an interview about naming colors with linguist Guy Deutscher. It was a fascinating article that I highly recommend listening to (here). Deutscher explains the power of naming in regards to how humans perceive color. It turns out that groups of people or individuals who don’t have a name for a color don’t actually SEE the color. They can’t. If you show them a page of green squares with one blue square thrown in there, they have a heck of a time identifying the one that is different. They just don’t see it. Things doesn’t stand out and have presence in your mind without a name.

Naming something gives it an anchor, a sort of mental map to that object. It gives a concept mental weight and heft. A name gives a concept recognition, presence and power in your life.

This is why you must set every goal with a paired, articulated, hard why. Your hard why becomes the fire and energy that pushes you past the challenges that will definitely come up. You know that saying death and taxes are the only reliable things? Well, I’d like to add challenges to that list.

Let’s use an example:

Goal: To start a business.

Soft Whys : To make money. To make a difference. To prove I can do it.

Hard Whys : To pay off my mortgage. To help immigrants get in touch with available resources. To use my talents and develop my skills.

Naming your hard why is your biggest asset. It takes effort. You have to see trees and even leaves on individual trees despite the forest. Look at them, take in their essence and arrive at a name that conveys meaning to you. The name of your hard why is yours. It is unique. It is the foundation to living your own best life.

What are your fire-fueling, challenge-hurdling, hard whys?

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