Journalism 101 teaches you  W-5 in the first week of classes.  Who? What? When? Where? and Why?  And if you can get answers to those questions in the story, you are well on the way to a powerful piece of reporting.  You have clarity.  Here is my question—how could using these questions be helpful  in the day, or the week, or (think grandly) the life in front of me?

1.  Who?   a.  who am I?  b.  who do I need to meet with this week?  c.  who are they?   d.  who else has opportunity to influence my life this week?   e.  who may be coming into my life that I need to have a contingency plan for? (remember the boy scouts motto–“be prepared”)

2.  What?  a.  what is my job?  b.  what are my gifts?  c.  what are my responsibilities?  d.  what is expected of me by virtue of my network or place in life?   e. what is on my plate but needs to be put on the back side of my plate?

3.  When?  a.  when was that meeting again?   b.  when did you want it delivered by, exactly?  c.  when is the event going to happen?  d.  when do you need to be picked up?   (as small and simple as “when” is, trust me–it could be the most powerful of the five).

4.  Where?   a.  location means a lot…where were we supposed to meet?  Okay, which Starbucks?   b.  looking for some information?  and you know you have it?  where is the key issue in retaining and ultimately engaging research info.  Note to self:  work on filing  c. where are you coming from? (is almost as  important in the journey as where are you heading to)

5.  Why?   ah “why”.  The why question is arguably the most vexatious question.  I have a friend who refuses to use the question in his consulting business.  It’s too messy he says.  It opens up all kinds of subjective, speculative, personal, crazy responses.  Think:  “why are you the kind of person you are?”  And you know that the conversation shifts to a river of ideas about one’s life, one’s family, one’s experiences, one’s present reality.  (Frankly, I think if you have time for coffee and conversation, “why” can be a lot of fun to ask).  But he instead reframes the question to  “for what purpose?”  “What is the purpose of this effort?  What is the purpose of this meeting?   What is the purpose of this assignment?”

Clarity.

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