Part of the mission of Empower America Project is to develop future conservative leaders. In  doing this work, we are consistently asked by leaders about running for public office. There are so many moving pieces to consider when one is thinking about running for office; fundraising, staffing, polling, the list goes on and on. All of those components are important once someone decides that running for office is the course that they want to take, and the Empower team works to make sure that all of our leaders have the best information, tools, and support once that decision is made. However, we know that before any of those things are contemplated, there is one MAJOR step that many people overlook that is the bedrock of creating a powerful and impactful campaign. Before you run for office or step up to be a leader of any organization or cause, you must KNOW YOUR WHY.

What are the steps to creating your “Why”? We are glad you asked! Below is a summary of the five steps to creating your Why?

1. Write It All Down

Discovering and articulating your WHY is a comprehensive process. You run the risk of losing important elements if you try to keep it all in your head. Campaigns can also get hectic; writing all the different pieces of your WHY down on paper will keep you focused as you move forward. It will help to tie everything together in the end.

2. What Are Your Core Values?

The United States Navy has three words that make up the core values of the organization: Honor, Courage, and Commitment. These three words are at the very heart of the way that every member conducts themselves from the newest recruit to the Chief Naval Officer. They are a standard for every sailor and officer to judge their actions against. Your core values are the standard against which you judge your own personal motivations and actions. What is your guiding light? What are your core convictions? What principles determine how you carry out your sense of duty?

3. Discover Your Passions

Zig Ziglar, a world renowned motivational speaker once said, “It has been my observation that directed passion, founded on an ethical, moral base, enables anyone to utilize his or her full potential with awesome results.”. Your passions should be what motivates you to run. What excites you? What problems are you driven to solve? What change do you have a desire to bring about?

4. Explore Your Story

Everyone has a story to tell. What about your life experiences have brought you to this point. What have you seen happen that you want to prevent? What opportunities have you experienced that you want to make sure exist for others? What have you experienced that will make you relatable to voters. How will you go about making important decisions?

5. Tie It All Together

Once you have all of this figured out, tie it together in a way that you feel comfortable articulating. This will be the basis of your entire campaign, so it needs to be YOUR thoughts and words. Think about it as an elevator pitch; using the steps above, can you explain in a 30 second elevator ride WHY you are running for office? You will be asked, and you must have a well thought-out answer. All of this must be laid out clearly and comprehensively before you decide to run, and they most certainly need to be laid out before you announce your candidacy.

Take the time to work this out. You may need to start by articulating your 10 minute “why” before you can shorten it to a 2-5 minute “why.” Before running for office you need to have a clear 30 second “why,” but getting there takes time and effort. If you are not willing to invest that time, reevaluate your reasons for running!! Every step is important and it speaks not just to who you are as a candidate, but who you are as a person. 

While these steps are perfect for those who are considering running for public office, they work just as well for those who are looking to take on leadership roles to solve problems or create change in their own communities. Take Empower Leader Shay Hawkins for example, if you would like to see what all of these elements look like when put together, check out this video from Empower Leader Shay Hawkins HERE

Need Help? Email your WHY to the Empower team at to receive personalized feedback!