Borrow the information inside of the book if you are smart!
And make it yours if you are wise!
Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why is so good that I have read it multiple times. He wrote his book because he wanted to inspire people to do things that inspire them. He found that just a few people have found the secret to doing only the things that inspire themselves. This small group of people have discovered the secret of inspiration by constantly asking themselves why they want to do what they are doing. Furthermore, with every answer they came up with to their WHY question they then asked themselves again why on that one too until they were successfully able to get to the bottom of why they were doing what they were doing. Finally knowing WHY truly motivated them to become successful.
The rest of us who are not in this small happy elite group tend to answer and think in the WHAT terminology when thinking and talking about what we do. We tend to think and talk about WHAT we have done or what we plan to do instead of WHY we are doing, unfortunately, at the expense of our own personal inspiration. People who understand their WHY are more inspired than those who do not.
In Simon Sinek’s own words he says, “Our greatest leaders and influencers in the world all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way- and it’s the opposite of what everybody else does.” Sinek calls this powerful idea of a new way of thinking, acting, and communicating The Golden Circle. And it all begins with WHY.
I believe that most of us would like to be able to inspire others. I know I do. But Sinek’s book expresses that most of us don’t know how to inspire others so instead we do what is easier; and that is to manipulate. Businesses do this manipulations thing all the time by just dropping their prices and running a sale. Sinek says that there are only two ways to get people to act. You either inspire them or you manipulate them. If you want to inspire them, like I do, then you need to understand The Golden Circle and know your WHY.
Picture The Golden Circle as three circles or rings inside each other, each bigger than the next or maybe smaller than the next depending in which direction you are going. The smallest ring or circle is the bull’s eye just like on a dart board. Can you picture it? Good. Dead center, the bully’s eye, is our WHY. We can all see that the bull’s eye is the smallest circle or ring and thus it would be the hardest to hit, right? The WHY that resides in there is also the hardest for us all to hit as evidence by very few companies or people being able to clearly articulate WHY they do what they do. This area is the ultimate test, as well as the area that will bring the greatest success if we master how to hit it.
The next biggest circle or ring after the WHY is the HOW. This one is easier to hit than the bull’s eye WHY because it’s a bigger target. More people innately better understand how they do the things they do. More people understand HOW they do what they do than people who understand WHY they do what they do.
The final big outside ring or circle is the WHAT area. Obviously one can see this is the biggest area. We all intuitively understand that this is the easiest area to hit because it’s the biggest. In this area of WHAT usually every single company and organization on the planet knows what they do. Most of us individuals know what we do too? Some however are better at knowing HOW to do it; thus, they are a little more successful than the WHATS. And remember even fewer of us know WHY we do what we do, and thus this is the smallest and the most successful group up according to Sinek.
Sinek repeatedly says throughout his book that people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. And WHY you do it is your root cause or root belief that is buried in your inner soul and background. It’s who you are and what you stand for. It’s demonstrated by everything you have done in your life and everything you are doing going forward from this moment on. Your WHY is basically your authenticity and what other people can expect to get from you when they deal with you.
“Unfortunately” says Sinek, “most of us aren’t very good at digging deep enough within ourselves to truly find our WHY, and for the few that do innately understand their WHY, even fewer are capable of expressing their WHY to others. Thus, the general population doesn’t know what they stand for and aren’t loyal to them or their brand, as evidence of the customers quickly leaving one brand for another that is having a sale.
Sinek says that these difficulties in getting others whose brand is our brand and who are what we are to understand our WHY and becoming loyal to us is not our fault because expressing ourselves is rooted in our biology.
Let’s take The Golden Circle that looks like a dart board with the bull’s eye in the middle and pull it out into a three dimensional figure so that now it resembles the shape of the human brain. The bull’s eye WHY is now in the center of the brain and now represents our more primitive prehistoric limbic brain. The outer layer now consist of our newer neocortex brain. Our newer outer neocortex brain is where our language develop center resides. Thus, most of us usually have no problem saying in words WHAT we do. However, with our WHY residing in our older inner primitive limbic brain that has no capabilities for language it becomes very difficult for us to put our WHY into words. That’s why us humans love symbols, logos and pictures to tell the world our story and WHY we do what we do. The HOW part of the brain resides somewhere in the middle of these two brains and thus the ability to put our HOW in words is a bit easier than our WHY but still somewhat fuzzier than our WHAT.
Some of us will actually try to put words to WHY we do what we do, but those words or reasons, are often wrong, and we don’t even know it. Remember, our WHY centered primitive limbic brain doesn’t have language capabilities. Thus, once again our difficulties in expressing our WHY is rooted in our biology of being human, which means it’s not our fault that we struggle with telling ourselves, as well as others our WHY. However, regardless of whose fault it is, it is still our own responsibility to take charge of our lives and improve in our WHY area. If we do, us mere mortals, who are also amazing humans can eventually develop our own human success story in both pictures and words.
Someone who has done a good job with figuring out his WHY and then explaining it in a way that others too can clearly see what his WHY is was Steve Jobs of Apple Computers. Apple’s ability to remain one of the most innovative companies year after year, combined with their uncanny ability to attract a cult-like following, makes them a great example to demonstrate many of the principles of The Golden Circle and knowing your WHY.
Apple’s products give life to their cause. Apple “thinks differently” and everything they do demonstrates their WHY, which is to challenge the status quo. Apple wanted to give the individual sitting at home the same power as any big company. Apple wanted to empower the little guy. And this is a pattern that Apple has adhered to over and over again with all its different products from computers to phones to animated movies.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Apple wants to challenge the status quo when one thinks about its founder and CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs grew up in the 1960’s when the youth were challenging authority and the status quo. For many years, while trying to build his company, Jobs would show up to important meetings wearing no shoes and not have showered. He would be barefoot in those important meeting with his not so-pleasant smelling feet up on the table ruffling the feathers of many more traditional people in those meetings.
Hey, that’s just who Steve Jobs has always been. And growing up into an adult with a business didn’t change him. Until his death Jobs has always been the same Steve Jobs that he has always been and so has his WHY, which was always consistently demonstrated over time with everything his company and products have done.
When one is as good as Jobs was with explaining and showing his WHY, soon a cult-like following takes place because it’s no longer about the product as much as it is about the people who buy the product. These people are not loyal to the product because it’s a superior product that’s better than all the others. They are loyal to the product and brand because it is a good product that says a lot about who they are as people, as well as what they want to express to the outside world about who they are as people through using the product and showing off the brand.
Essentially, there is no difference between Apple’s customers, employees and shareholders. What they buy or do may be different, but they all have the same WHY and they all want the world to know it by associating with Apple, its products and Steve Jobs when he was still alive. In essence, Apple is not really a company that sells computers. It’s a company that is changing the world by challenging the status quo, and empowering the individual who just so happens to also sell computers among other things by the way.
Everything that I have mentioned here is just the tip of what Simon Sinek talks about in his book, Start with Why. He goes on in his book to give many more examples of companies and individuals who have figured out their WHY, as well as how to express their WHY in a way that people can easily understand. In addition, Sinek also points out many companies that used to know their WHY and how to express it, but have lost either their WHY or their clarity of message over time and are now floundering.
So, what can we do with the powerful information in Sinek’s book? Well, the first thing everyone should do is go get the book, read it, take notes and then try to apply his wisdom and insight. Get ready though for your mind to be over-whelmed with possibilities of the quality of life you could be living if you can just figure out your WHY and how to effectively express your WHY.
Finding your WHY doesn’t come from looking forward into the future like some wizard, it comes from looking back. So, look back in your past and take inventory of your life. What were the best times in your life? When did you feel totally in control? When were you absolutely positive that you were doing the right thing and knew you were exactly where you needed to be? Now let me ask you WHY. Why did you feel so good and positive during those moments? Doing this simple exercise will help you begin to find your true authenticity. From the starting point of your true authenticity you can begin to successfully move forward with confidence to better understand WHY you do what you do.
Finally, you will be able to put all your future decisions through your WHY filter thus making your life a lot easier, less stressful, more productive, and more Zen like. I know Steve Jobs would approve of this, but please do shower and keep your shoes on at your next meeting. Figure out your WHY and consistently use your WHY filter for all future decisions and you will start to attract others like you who can become part of your team in making this world a better place. No more hesitating. Go get the book. Read it and do what you have to do to figure out your WHY, express your WHY and succeed in fulfilling your dreams.
Dan is an award-winning teen leadership author, speaker and educator. You can find out more about Dan at: www.GranddaddysSecrets.com.