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When WHY doesn't Lead to Lies

Updated: May 11, 2021

Hello everyone and welcome to Week 2 of our January theme of Effective Goal Setting!

Last week we covered Why New Year's resolutions often fail and how to set better intentions.

This week on CLCI LIVE, Lisa Finck (C.P.C., A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.L.C., C.P.C), and Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.) and guest Mark Casson discuss when to use "WHY" and why finding our why can help coaches, clients, and people attach our emotional response to our goals.

Often as coaches we seek to ask the right questions to lead our clients to a discovery, either to how they will reach their goals or what their goals are. But often times the most important question begins with WHY.

I know what you are thinking, didn't we go over in both Level 1 and Level 2 that...

"Whys Lead to Lies"

Here is an example where at best, a why question could lead to an answer that isn't useful and at worst, a lie.

"Why didn't you follow the action plan we established last week?"

This why-question often makes your client defensive and feel like they need to justify their behavior. Instead we teach coaches how to use open-ended questions to elicit in-depth responses.

"I understand that you didn't work on the action steps you had laid out for yourself. Tell me more about that."

Notice how this isn't even framed as a question, more of an open ended request that allows the client to move forward, but still essentially serves the same purpose. Now we will make our why-question into something open ended and packed full of meaning.

When to use WHY

As we talk with Mark and Jerome, we check in on the goals they have set for themselves, both long-term and short-term.

We then ask two important questions.

  1. Why do you want this goal?

  2. What will it give you?

These are deceptively simple questions but as we see with Jerome and Mark, they cover a deeper emotional territory that is often neglected. The answers to these questions often fall under the R category when setting up SMART goals and will establish your emotional connection to seeing the goal through.

Lets give an example of how the use of Why can lead to meaningful answers and emotional connections to goals.


Goal: My goal is to write consistently every day and increase the amount I write throughout the year.

Why do I want this goal?

  • I want this goal because I value writing and wish to improve.

What will it give me?

  • I will hone my skills and hopefully get published/make a living writing.


This is where most people would stop. But have I really found that emotional attachment to my goals? Lets dig a little deeper.

Why do I value writing and improvement?

  • I value writing and improving at it because it is a refined way to express ideas about myself and how I relate to the world around me

What will making a living writing give me?

  • Making a living by writing will give me a sense of satisfaction that both my skills and what I have to say as a person are valuable to society and the people around me.


I'm getting closer, lets try one more time.

Why do I value expressing my ideas and relating to the world around me?

  • I value expressing my ideas and relating to the world around me because I want to live authentically and I feel a deep satisfaction when my point of view is understood by someone who otherwise would not have understood it before.

What will being valuable give me?

  • What being valuable will give me is a sense of purpose in the world and the belief that I am making a contribution in someway and am affecting the lives of others, and can still contribute even long after I am gone.


Right here is where I found my emotional attachment and my Why.

It may take some time to figure out and can even be homework for yourself and your clients throughout the course of a week, but the process of asking Why again and again and again is sure to help you identify yours and you client's CORE VALUES.

Be sure to Join us Next Week For...

Week 3: The Art of Brainstorming Effectively


Week 4: Creating an Effective 3 Month Plan

Thank you,

Mark Casson, Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, and Jerome LeDuff Jr.

Join us every Tuesday at 4 pm PST/7 PM EST for our CLCI Live Facebook Demos.

We've announced classes through July of 2021, take a look at our class calendar here. Don't miss out on our 3-day life coach classes, it's an education that is beneficial for life, not just for life coaches! Want to learn more click here.

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