You’re probably familiar with Simon Sinek and have watched his Start with Why concept on TEDxTalks. If not, how long have you been living under the rock? Seriously though, you’ve got to watch it!
In today’s episode, we have David Mead, a team member at Simon Sinek’s organization Start with Why. David is going to share with us how people can discover their why.
In 2004, he started his career in corporate training a few years after finishing his MBA focused on organizational development. Then he realized that what was being taught in business school was contributing to poor leadership.
In 2009, David met Simon Sinek and got introduced to the Golden Circle concept. He eventually got invited to join Simon’s team. He started developing the concept with Simon.
In 2012, he began speaking and facilitating workshops to help shift people’s preconception on leadership and culture. This led him to co-author a book called Find Your Why with Simon. David is known as the “how” to Simon’s why.
Here are the highlights of my conversation with David:
The Golden Circle Concept
It’s represented by a bull’s eye with three words.
Why – found on the center or right at the bull’s eye.
How – found on the middle ring
What – on the outer ring
The basic idea is that every organization and even our own careers operate on three levels – what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.
Every organization knows what they do (product, service, your title, your role).
Some know how they do what they do (How you set yourself apart from somebody doing the same thing you’re doing.
But very organizations can clearly articulate or talk about why they do what they do.
What Is Your Why?
What’s your purpose, your cause, your belief? What is the driver behind everything you do? What’s the human reason that your organization exists? This is the reason you get out of bed in the morning.
It’s not that why is important than how or what, but it’s the part that’s often forgotten. There has to be balanced among all these three.
Why We We Forget About the Why
The why is a feeling, a belief, and so we have a hard time explaining it. And that part of our brain that controls all the feelings, decision-making, and behavior, doesn’t control language.
That part of our brain where the why lives, does not control language, so a lot of people have a hard time putting into words what that why is.
Why Is What Differentiates You
Your why is not something you do to sound better nor is it a marketing tactic, but it’s what you believe. And people can feel that if you’re being authentic about your why.
If you show something that’s meaningful to you and it’s something that potentially matters to them, this results in bigger sales because you come across as more inspiring to people.
At the core, they believe what you believe and they want to share in the vision you have.
How Many Why’s Do You Have?
Your individual why is the same why as the organization you lead. Your organization is a way that you bring your why to life.
Our why is who we are when we are at our natural best. It’s the contribution we make and the impact we have on the lives of people around us. It should apply at work, at home, in the community, or wherever you find yourselves in.
Your why is the driving force behind everything you do.
For large organizations:
If the organization is a bit older and we don’t know what the founding story is, the why can come from the very best elements of that existing culture.
Bring in fifteen of the best people in the room and discover what is already there. What is it that makes this organization operate at its best? What the experiences where you have showed up as an organization you’re proud of?
Through all of those different experiences, you find that golden thread which ties all of those stories together. And this is the seed or the foundation of the why for that organization.
Your Why Is Who You Are
Your why is not aspirational and not something you hope to become someday. But it’s who you already are. It’s just a matter of articulating what that is.
How to Discover Your Why
1. Online course
Start with Why has an online course to help individuals discover their why. It’s an interactive online course that
2. Read the book, Find Your Why
This book is specifically designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses to discover and articulate what the why is.
3. Dig into your impactful experiences.
Get a partner who is genuinely curious to know more about you, who can dig deeper into your stories and experiences to help you figure out the significance of your life.
Dig into your past and remember all the stories and times in your life that have been the most shaping and impactful for you.
4. Find that golden thread that ties all of those things together.
Once you’ve figured that out, put that into words. So then you can consciously put yourself in that situation again rather than having it happen by accident. Then can find opportunities at home or at work or in the community that can give you that meaning and fulfillment. And so, you can live a life of meaning and purpose on purpose rather than by accident.
Sample questions to discover your why:
Think of your earliest happy childhood memory – a coach or mentor or teacher who really made a difference for you. What did they do and what is it about that?
Look for specific experiences. When you can connect with specific moments, that’s when you relive the feelings and emotions you had. And that’s where they why comes from.
Tell me about a time in your past that was particularly meaningful for you? The project you worked on back in college. Anything that can bring out feelings of something that you love.
Overcoming Possible Apprehensions
While you may have apprehensions on the front-end, it’s really freeing to be able to understand what it is that makes you tick and what drives you and fulfills you and inspires you.
Every person’s why is somehow about helping others do something and making that impact.
The key is to ask those questions to dig deeper and really get to the significance and meaning of each story. Then look for the patterns and themes that seem to come up over and over again. But we don’t find the meaning unless we dig in really further.
The Biggest Pitfall People Fall Into
People try to shove their what in their why. They talk about their products and services in their why statement. They’re important, too, just that they don’t belong in your why statement.
If you define yourself by what you do or what you sell. it will never be inspiring to anybody. Nobody is inspired to wake up and sell a widget. But they’re inspired by the difference that widget can make in someone’s life.
What inspires human beings is service to other human beings. Money is only a short-term motivator.
David’s Major Takeaway:
Finding your why takes time. It’s a process. Focus on the draft statement. It’s going to take some refining, some thought, and some additional work. Make some decisions and changes in your life that will put this to you. The hardest part is maintaining that why you’ve worked so hard to articulate. Sometimes, it’s going to take years. So you have to commit to it.
Watch Simon Sinek’s Start with Why
Find Your Why by Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Docker
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