“How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” is the first quote from the book of Start with Why. I got to know Simon Sinek through Youtube channel, TED Talk titled “How great leaders inspire action”. After I watched the video, I immediately bought the book. The message conveyed by Simon very profound and deep as it connects directly to my core belief. I love the concept of the Golden Circle that was developed by Simon Sinek. It helps me to understand my why.
My why is to inspire people to embrace the adversity of life so that they can grow living life with fulfilment.
WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT?
The core content of the book is about the Golden Circle. Deep within the circle, it begins with the WHY. Then, followed by the HOW and finally the WHAT as shown in the following picture.
Typically, everyone is able to explain the WHAT and the HOW? Not many people able to articulate the WHY? Let’s break it down!
Almost every person knows What they do. This is your job title, function, the products you sell, and services that you provide.
Some people know How they do it. These are the things you do that make you unique. It makes you different and unique among your peers.
Very few people know WHY they do what they do. Most people think they work because of money. But it is not about the money, money is the result. However, the Why is a purpose, cause, and belief. It is bigger than what we are. It acts as an anchor of your passion. Your Why is the very purpose you exist.
Simon Sinek quoted; People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.
The golden circle can be explained in the form of a fire. Your “WHY” is the spark to start a fire. Your “HOW” is the fuel to keep the fire burning. Your “WHAT” is the consumable material used to sustain your fire.
Here is the catch, “Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention”. It does take the effort to discover your why. It is about finding your spark. The book shared examples of the beauty of discovery your why.
My three key lessons from the book.
1. Manipulations lead to Transactions, Not Loyalty
There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it, or you can inspire it. Simon explained structured it very well to differentiate between manipulation and inspiration. Manipulation is very common and relatively gentle tactic that already exist. Most of us have been doing it since we were young. “I’ll be your best friend” is one of the most effective tactics that is used among the younger generation to get something they want from a person. Even my parents did that. They said “You must study for two hours, then you can play video games” Guess what it works! A typical manipulation includes a discount of price, running a promotion, using fear, peer pressure, aspirational message and promising speech to influence to get support and votes. Inspiration
Inspiration is a different game. It starts with the Golden circle. It starts from the inside out. If you have a strong sense of why and you are able to articulate to the people around, you will earn their loyalty. Here is the catch, it will take time. It is a long continuous process to build the relationship. However, if you are authentic, it will be effortless.
2. The power of WHY is not opinion, its biology.
This was a big surprise to me. Simon stated the principles are deeply grounded in the evolution of human behaviour. The brain consists of two main component which includes Limbic Brain and the Neocortex. The Neocortex is corresponding with the WHAT level. It is responsible for rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections comprise limbic brain. The limbic brain is responsible for all our feelings, such as trust and loyalty. It is also responsible for all human behaviour and all our decision-making. The limbic brain has no capacity for language. Basically, it is corresponding to HOW and especially the WHY element.
To make it simple, just start with this question. “Why do you love your wife?” or “Why do you love your husband?” These questions activate your limbic brain because the question is about the feeling of love which has no capacity for language. We struggle to put into words the real reason why we love them, so we talk around it or rationalize it. “She is smart, she is beautiful, or he is funny, he is amazing” But there are many people who are smart, beautiful, funny and amazing, but we do not love them. Why? We know it is more than just the personality and competence. It is the feeling of connection that was built over time which leads to loyalty.
Simon also talks about winning hearts and minds. The heart represents the limbic, feeling part of the brain, and the mind is the rational, language centre. Most companies like to focus on winning the mind which comparison of features and benefits. Winning the hearts takes more work and time which leads to loyalty. It must start with the companies’ WHY. Once it is earned, the ROI is enormous. The companies will stand stronger despite all the disturbance from the outside.
3. If you follow your WHY, Then Others Will follow you!
Simon shared a story about Ben Comen, a cross country runner with Cerebral palsy, a condition often by complication at birth, affects someone’s movement and balance. Doctors say he will not be able to walk, but he wants to run. In competition, the pack pulls farther and farther ahead while Ben falls farther and farther behind. He slips on the wet grass and falls forward into the soft earth. He never gives up and pick himself up and continue running. Typically, an average person takes about 25 minutes to complete a cross country run. However, it takes 45 minutes for Ben to finish the run.
Ben feel lonely as he is the only one left. Everyone is ahead of him. He did finish at the end. This story is not about “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and it is not about “when you fall, you need to get up”. After 25 minutes, an amazing thing happens. When everyone has done with their race, everyone comes back to run together with Ben. Ben only runner who, when he falls, someone else picks him up. Ben is the only runner who when he finishes, has a hundred people running behind him. That is the beautiful moment.
When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. However, when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you. Olympic athletes don’t help each other because they are competitors. Ben starts every race with a clear sense of WHY. He is there not to beat anyone but himself. His sense of WHY he’s running gives him the strength to keep going. To keep pushing and going. He runs to beat himself. Everyone knows that, so they come back to support him although they finish their race.
Overall, Start with Why is a great book to discover your spark. There multiple examples in the book that shows the benefits once your discover your WHY. The Golden Circle is a great concept to discover your why. It can be used as a guide to make life critical decision. I also wrote another post which is a follow-up, titled Find your Passion or Find your Why?
Final Thoughts: Start With Why by Simon Sinek
I enjoyed reading Start With Why because Simon Sinek made me think. It also gave me a new perspective on people, community and organization. Most importantly, I discovered my WHY. I highly recommend this book.