Start With “Why”

In his brilliant TED Talk “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek says the problem with how most brands and individuals communicate their message is that they always talk about WHAT they do and HOW they do it, but rarely ever do they talk about WHY they do what they do.

We see this with politicians who are always trying to explain how it is they’re better than the other candidates and in return they expect a vote. But this isn’t what drives human behavior.

Talking about WHY we do what we do on the other hand is actually what inspires people to come out and vote for you.

It’s this kind of communication, Sinek says, that is the reason individuals and companies like the Wright brothers, Martin Luther King Jr and Apple were successful in spreading their cause.

As Sinek says, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”

The question then is, what’s your WHY? What’s your mission? What’s your purpose? What’s your cause?

If people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it, then the logic follows that if you don’t know WHY you do WHAT you do, how will anyone else?

If you’re a leader within your organization, and you can’t clearly communicate WHY your organization exists in terms beyond its products or services, then how do you expect your employees to know WHY they should come to work every day?

If you ask most businesses WHY their employees are their employees, most will have no idea.

When companies or organizations don’t have a clear sense of WHY their employees are their employees or WHY their customers are their customers, they tend to rely heavily on manipulations such as price, fear, and promotions.

This is because manipulations work, but only in the short term. In the long term, manipulations fail to create any loyalty among individuals and they inevitably lead to failure.

So again, what’s your WHY?

Once you know WHY you do what you do, the question then is HOW will you do it?

HOWs are your principles that will guide you on HOW to bring your WHY to life.

In his book “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek says something really interesting. He says,

“Often times, businesses will remind themselves what their values are by writing them on the wall… as nouns. Integrity. Honesty. Innovation. Communication, for example. But nouns are not actionable. They are things. You can’t build systems or develop incentives around those things. It’s nearly impossible to hold people accountable to nouns. “A little more innovation today if you would please, Bob.” For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.”

So, WHY do you do things? And HOW do you do things?

When it comes to achieving success, Sinek says you don’t need a clear WHY and HOW. However, in order to find lasting success, you do.

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4 thoughts on “Start With “Why”

  1. my husband said that’s the basis of all our disagreements. He says no and I say why??? I want to know the thinking behind a decision so why is a very important question to me! It tells me how you think.

    Liked by 1 person

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