Who Are You? Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Actually Starting With Why
Now it would have been very easy to leave “actually” out of the title of this. It says “the power of actually starting with why”. But it’s an important word in this case.
And that’s because Simon Sinek’s work, “start with why” has become extremely popular. And for good reason. Anything that simple, yet impactful deserves to have a huge following.
But, like any cliche, there is a use of the term by people who don’t actually know what they’re talking about.
They say the thing. Like “start with why”. But they’ve never read the book. They haven’t taken a course or listened to a talk. They’re simply saying, “start with why”. Probably because it’s such a great hookpoint, it just rolls off your tongue.
But, it’s also insanely valuable.
So, it’s important, that together we take a big breath and review what the heck does it mean?
A Definition Of Start With Why
Growing up creates our “why”. Our family, teachers, hobbies, jobs, and experiences all contribute to the total of our abilities, values, and personality patterns.
When we look back at our development and the people, places and things that created our most aligned sense of self, we find a recipe for success. These clues lead to our why.
A why” does not change. It is the sum total of your experiences that has made you who you are. We can change how we navigate the world, what we do with it, and how aligned we are with our why. But it does not change.
This concept revolves around the idea that to truly inspire others, or ourselves, we must start by explaining the ‘why’ – our purpose, cause, or belief that inspires us to do what we do.
Simon Sinek puts it like this
“Every single organization on the planet and even our own careers always function on the same three levels. 1. What we do 2. How we do it and 3. Why we do it.
Every single one of us knows what we do, its the job we have, the products, or services we offer. Some of us can articulate how we do it, the few things that are specific to our process that make us stand out from the crowd.
But few can explain why they do it. It’s not about results like making money or pleasing investors. It is about asking what is your mission? What is your purpose, your cause, your belief? Why does this exist and why should anyone care?”
“Why” gives our actions and work deeper meaning and can significantly impact our decision-making process. We can figure out the “how”, the micro goals, actions, systems, and habits based on our why.
How To Brainstorm Your Why
There are many ways to find your why. In fact, Sinek wrote an entire book dedicated to this called “Find Your Why”.
Basically, we want to do exercises that might reveal what truly moves us. What values and consistent rewards are important to us?
Here are some of the key ideas I’ve found most helpful over the years.
Identify Your Pivotal Moments: Identify life’s pivotal moments. Take inventory of those experiences, people, or events that had a profound impact on you, positive or negative.
Draw a ‘Why Discovery’ Timeline: Map out the major events in your life chronologically. By visually laying out your experiences, you can spot patterns, recurring themes, or consistent passions that have shown up throughout your life.
Consider What Makes You Feel Fulfilled: Think about the times you’ve felt truly happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. What were you doing? Who were you with? How did you feel? What made it fulfilling?
Phone A Friend: Interview your best friends. Don’t do this with immediate family. Ask them, “why are we friends?” Keep digging beyond the surface level until they describe themselves and what it is you do for them. You can do this with multiple people, and see similar themes emerge.
Write Your Legacy: If the people who know your mission best write the phrase on your tombstone, what will they write? Or if the people you seek to serve build a statue of you after you die, in one sentence, what will the plaque say?
Write Your Tattoo: If you were to tattoo one phrase on your body, that if everyone did this, the world would be the most aligned place you want to live in, what would it be? What kind of world would this create and why would it be so great?
Formulate Your Why Statement
“So, how can you use the ‘Start with Why’ philosophy to decide who you are and how you want to show up in the world?
Once you’ve identified recurring themes, start crafting a WHY statement. This should be simple and clear, and follow the structure: “I wake up everyday to ____blank______, so that ____blank___.”
The first blank is the contribution you make to the lives of others, and the second blank is the impact of your contribution. An example could be: “To inspire young minds through education so that they can reach their full potential.”
Do You Have A Clear Why?
One of the famous Simon Sinek quotes is “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Now, I understand this may seem abstract, so let’s walk through an example.
Let’s say your ‘why’ is to inspire young people to reach their full potential. Your ‘how’ could be through empathy, constant learning, and effective coaching. And your ‘what’? It might be becoming a teacher, a young adult author, or starting a YouTube channel focused on personal growth and resilience.
Here are a couple more quick examples of “why”:
To inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that together we can change the world. – Simon
To propel positive change so that others can live a more fulfilled life. – David
To support and encourage others so that they can revel in who they are. – Kim
While your why never actually changes, finding your why and how you understand it is a forever process. It’s another great way of using the Just Keep Learning concept. We don’t just grasp our why in some big, one-time event, rather it’s a lifelong, ongoing process.
As we grow and evolve, the understanding of our ‘why’ will shift. Especially in how we apply it. The impact it has on what we do, and how we do it.
Never be afraid to look inward, and evaluate your current passions, motivations, and the core essence of who you are.
So any time you feel a bit stuck, just return to your why statement. Use some of the brainstorming exercises to “find your why” again.
Refine the manifestation of your why time and time again to make sure it feels aligned at any given time.
Thanks for reading. Your pal,