Lesson #53: Start with Why
In September 2009, Simon Sinek delivered a TED talk called ‘Start with why — how great leaders inspire action’ which has now been viewed almost 9 million times. He shares a simple but inspiring concept around what drives human behaviour. In the talk, Simon argues that ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’, and provides compelling case studies to back up this theory using Apple, The Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King.
The concept about what drives human behaviour is illustrated using ‘The Golden Circle’ — three concentric circles with why at the centre, surrounded by how, and then what. As he explains it, the why at the centre is driven by the limbic brain and comes from an irrational, ‘feeling’ place. Similarly the how. Whereas the what at the outside of the circle — the details and description, are processed by the more modern, thinking part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. He argues that people are loyal to causes, people or companies that believe what they believe — that meet a deeper need of belonging and connection than merely the surface details.
Finding my Why
For years I have been searching for the underlying thread that connects all the things I do and what I want to offer. One of my coaches calls this ‘the golden thread’. As I mentioned yesterday when I wrote about the Lifebook journey to creating an inspiring Life Vision, finding clarity and a sense of purpose has been something I’ve struggled with.
Your purpose lies in what you value
Coming up with my top three values, which sounds simple but was really hard, was a huge breakthrough to me. It was only through being put on the spot in a coaching session that I broke through a barrier of confusion and doubt to voice them. The values I settled on were curiosity, connection and creativity.
Coming up with a mission statement
For years I have made attempts of writing a mission statement. As part of a teacher training I did in 2020 we were encouraged to define our purpose and mission. This is what I wrote:
My purpose is to help people shift perspectives and break out of stuck ways of being.
My mission is to connect with people in a way that helps them feel inspired and empowered, with more purpose and joy.
Are we there yet?
So I seem to have defined my values, my purpose and my mission. And it all feels true. But somehow it still feels too wordy.
I will use Simon Sinek’s example of Apple and see if I can do it for myself:
Why: We believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.
How: The way we challenge the status quo is making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.
Words Circles Life:
Why: As humans we can get stuck in old ways of thinking and being that can make us feel lost, powerless and confused. I believe that by shifting our perspective on our life we can feel inspired, empowered and experience a sense of purpose and joy. I believe that we came to earth to evolve our spirit and to expand, but our ego traps us in a state of fear and contraction.
I want to inspire and empower people to expand and experience the satisfaction of aligning with their soul’s purpose.
How: I seek to inspire and empower people to break through fear and connect to spirit through my writings, creations and how I live my life.
In a nutshell
The fewer words we use to define our purpose, the clearer we can be. Apple broke their mission down to two words — Think differently.
I will attempt some short definitions of my why as follows:
Expand with alignment
Inspired to empower
A work in progress
I am inspired to empower others to align and expand. I do this through creativity, curiosity and connection.
That’ll do for now. Progress not perfection.
How about you? I’d love to hear what you come up with. Or get in touch and we can discuss it together. I offer a FREE 45 minute discovery session and I would LOVE to listen and support you!