Start With WHY
Every person has a WHY.
Every one of us has a WHY, a deep-seated purpose, cause or belief that is the source of our passion and inspiration. You may not know what yours is or how to express it in words. But we guarantee, you have one. If you’d like to understand your WHY, we can help. We believe that all of us deserve to wake up inspired to go to work and come home, at the end of the day, feeling fulfilled by the work we do.
If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.
TED Talk | How great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek
Why is it that some leaders and organizations are able to inspire greater loyalty and engagement among their customers and employees alike? How are they are able to achieve and sustain inordinate amounts of success for years on end?
Whether they realize it or not, all great and inspiring leaders and organizations think, act and communicate in the same way… and it is the complete opposite from everyone else.
Every single organization on the planet, even our own careers, function on three levels:
- What we do
- How we do it, and
- Why we do it.
When those three pieces are aligned, it gives us a filter through which to make decisions. It provides a foundation for innovation and for building trust. When all three pieces are in balance, others will say, with absolute clarity and certainty, “We know who you are,” “We know what you stand for.”
This simple idea is The Golden Circle. It is a concept discovered by optimist and author Simon Sinek.
Every organization and individual knows What they do. For an organization, these are the products they sell or the services they offer. For an individual, it is their job title or roles.
Some organizations and individuals know How they do what they do. They may call it their “differentiating value proposition,” “proprietary process” or “unique selling proposition (USP).” The Hows are an organization’s or individual’s strengths, values or guiding principles. These are the things they feel set them apart from their competition; the things they think make them special or different from everyone else.
Very few people and very few organizations can clearly articulate Why they do what they do. Why is a purpose, a cause or a belief. It provides a clear answer to the questions, “Why do you get out of bed every morning?” “Why does your organization exist?” and “Why should that matter to anyone else?”
Making money is NOT a Why. Revenues, profits, salaries and other monetary measurements are simply results of what we do.
The Why is about our contribution to impact and serve others. The Why inspires us.
People naturally communicate from the outside-in; they typically go from what is easiest to understand to what is hardest to understand and explain. They tell people What they do, tell them How they are different or better, and then they expect a behavior like a purchase, a vote or support.
Here is how most organizations market and communicate:
What: “Here is our law firm.”
How: “We have the industry’s most intelligent lawyers, who graduated from the world’s top schools. Have you seen our client list? Only from the Fortune 500! And, check out our offices – they are absolutely pristine.”
Behavior: “Come do business with our law firm!”
The problem is that What and How do not inspire action. Facts and figures make rational sense, but people do not make decisions purely based on facts and figures. Starting with What is what commodities do. Starting with Why is what leaders do.
Leaders and organizations with the capacity to inspire all think, act and communicate from the inside-out. They start with their Why. When they communicate their purpose or cause first, they communicate in a way that drives decision-making and behavior. It literally taps the part of the brain that influences behavior.
Here’s an example with the same law firm, starting with their Why:
Why: “We believe in servicing the needs of others so that they can focus on the difference they need to make.“
How: “We do so by bringing on some of the most intelligent legal professionals who graduated from the world’s top schools. We work with top-performing organizations, most of which are on the Fortune 500 list so that we can help them make a larger difference in the world. And, we like to go above and beyond, so we have built pristine offices.”
What: “We are a world-class law firm.
Come see for yourself.”
If the people at this firm actually believe in their Why and think, act and communicate starting with their Why, they will attract people who believe what they believe and who want to be a part of their cause.
None of this is opinion. It is all grounded in the tenets of biology.
The concept of WHY is grounded in the biology of human decision making. The Golden Circle maps perfectly with how our brains work.
The outer section of the Golden Circle (WHAT) corresponds to the outer section of the brain (Neocortex) which is responsible for analytical thinking and language.
The middle two sections of the Golden Circle (WHY and HOW) correspond to the middle section of the brain (Limbic System) which is responsible for our behavior, decision-making and our feelings.
The part of our brain that controls our feelings has no capacity for language, which makes putting our feelings into words difficult. We are here to help you find words to express what truly inspires you.