Who remembers these questions: Who? What? Where? When? How? and Why? A set of questions essential for good research, investigation and problem solving. I learned this interrogation format as a boy and I always seem to return to it when things get serious. Like now!

These are the question that come to mind as I commence a 15 week run up to MovNat Cert III, Master Trainer.

“I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.”

Rudyard Kipling, Just So Series, 1902

[FACT: Where does the formulation of this line of questioning come from? To whom can we thank for their formulation? You can thank Aristotle who described this investigative process in his Nicomachean Ethics. A book written around 340BC.]


You can achieve a goal via happenstance. But this is rare. All of the goals I’ve achieve in life came from careful and methodical thinking and thoughtful planning. So here’s my thinking about goals, goal setting, getting started and using these six helpful questions to achieve things.

First a short note about thinking!

When answering these six questions or thinking through any problem, I’m a firm believer that clear thinking is a process of making the implicit explicit. Or in other words, don’t be afraid to state the obvious.

So let’s get started:

Question 1

“Where do I start?”

In striving to reach any goal it’s helpful to answer this simple question. “Where do I start?” The answer is suprisingly simple. “I start where I am. I start at the beginning.” Make the implicit, explicit. And in so saying you’ve already begun! Wonderfully affirming isn’t it.

It gets harder from here but no less rewarding.

Question 2

The next question that needs attention is, “Where am I going?” This is the same as setting a goals. Setting a ‘What’. And here’s an important tip. Whatever the goal is you have to state it! You have to name it in it’s simplest terms.

I’m convinced that simply by giving expression to a goal, by articulating a goal in words or by writing it down on paper (or both), creates an important cognitive and physical shift that aids in the achievement of the goal. Why I think this is true is perhaps a topic for another blog.

[ASIDE: This idea of ‘giving something expression to make something happen’ is not an idea without some rigor because the physical element can be found in the origins of the very word itself: to express. For example, to give expression to something has it’s etymological roots in two Latin words: ‘ex’ meaning “out” and ‘pressare’, meaning “to press or push”. The Italian ‘espresso’ shares the same Latin origin. So quite literally, to give expression to something is to push something (an idea, thought or goal) out of one’s self and into the world.]

Phew! That might have been a little bit too philosophical.

But to bring the point home. To express a goal is to give that goal a life of it’s own. And that is VERY important.

An unspoken idea, or goal, will remain hidden from everyone but yourself. This secrecy prevents other forces, other people, other interests and other events from working on or contributing to your goal. And trust me, the reality of achieving almost any goal is that you’ll need the input of a whole community of things to make your goal a reality.


 Here are some of my goals for MovNat Cert III:

  1. Run 4 minute 30second kms over 6-8kms
  2. Pistol squat from a seated Position on one or both legs
  3. Carry my own body weight in a Fireman’s Carry for 800m
  4. Run off-road in bare feet

There they are! Clearly stated in black and white I can no longer ignore them. I can’t dispute them. Can’t avoid them. They now have a life of their and own and I now have the task of dealing with them.

To see them written-up is liberating and daunting. It means I have work to do!

Questions 3, 4 & 5

So I’ve started at the beginning and know ‘Where’ I want to go and ‘What’ I want to do. I already know one aspect of the ‘Who’. At least for the moment I just need myself. I may need others. And I also know the ‘When’: 11 July 2019, in 15 weeks!

Now the ‘Why’ question?

This question is actually very VERY important. There is quote that reads;

“If you know the why, you can live any how.” Who said that? Friedrich Nietzsche, another philosopher! Hmmmm, is there are thread running though my blogs!

 In my view the quote is true and should be heeded.

Answering the Why question is important because it gets to the deeper motivations and reasons for doing anything. If you can’t find a suitable ‘Why’ answer to the goal you want to pursue then it is highly likely that you’ll stumble at the first hardship.

The first cold early morning start, first setback of any kind or the first craving for something that will undo your good work. Without a firm understanding of why you are doing something you will have no good reason to keep going and to ‘push through’. No good reason to endure pain or to sacrifice a comfort and you’re very likely to cave in and jeopardize the whole effort.


I know my Why.

It’s personal. I made a promise to myself that I’d complete Cert III after completion of Cert II. I told my colleagues that I’d get it done before I was too old to do so. And there were some within the MovNat community that thought the challenge was ‘beyond me’.

It’s about challenging my physicality. At my age I don’t know what I’m capable of. Never really tested it and I want to.

It’s also about ego. Who says to someone that you can’t? That it might be ‘beyond you’? And who hears this and does not then say (in that little voice inside your head), “Well, I’ll show you …”

So when I’m next in the room with all of my Master Trainer colleagues I’d like to be able to offer my thoughts on a topic and speak with a voice recognised as an equal in the room.

That’s my Why. And with five of the six questions covered I have both momentum and direction. Things are looking up. Now, what about the How?

 Question 6

Question 6: How? This is where many people usually hear tyres screeching to stop or record needles skipping off vinyl! That’s because almost any goal complicated by nature and will have multiple facets.

We can’t know everything! And we might not know anything about what we want to achieve!

For example, here are just a few of the things I can think of that are relevant to my four listed goals:

  • Injury recovery and prevention
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Scheduling and timing and fitting my fitness regime around all my other duties
  • Leg strength, power and endurance
  • Stay healthy!
  • Upper body strength, power and endurance
  • Increased hip, knee and ankle mobility
  • Develop tough feet!
  • Keep a proper diet and lose some weight

I’m sure there are many more elements that I’ve not listed here. And there are many sub-goals like saving money, buying flights, booking accommodation and on and on and on.

In my experience even the simplest goals are, when you start to break it all down, complex and complicated. And with so many things to cover the achievement of any goal can seem overwhelming or worse, unobtainable. But it’s not.

I’m not going to say, “Just pick one thing and get started”. That’s incorrect because everything is as important as everything else.

So where DO you start?

Make the implicit explicit: You Start EVERYWHERE!

While this might sound counterintuitive, there is a very VERY good rational and philosophy (there’s that word AGAIN!) behind this idea.

Remember the S.A.I.D Principle? I wrote about it HERE. Remember the S.A.I.D principle and next week I’ll tell you about the “aggregation of marginal gains.” How a 1% improvement in everything you do (and I mean everything) adds up to remarkable improvements!

 That’s how you tackle all the elements of the ‘How’: Everything all the time and all at ONCE!

Damien Norris is the founder and senior whole-body movement and lifestyle coach at The Wilding Project (LINK), Perth Western Australia.

Recently featured in TEDxPerth (LINK), Damien teaches children, young people, adults and seniors how to move and live a full life!

Olympic Fun & Fitness and The Wilding Project like Rewilding is dedicated to a movement rich life. Programs like Gymnastics, GymFIT, FootyEDGE, Parkour, Workplace Athletes, ActiveAgers and more all follow a simple philosophy, “Learn to move well and then never stop.”

Damien Norris