Don’t Start with Why

I have long been a fan of Simon’s Sinek’s work, and in particular his book ‘Start with why.’

In it Simon shares his ‘golden circle’ model showing ‘Why’ in the centre, ‘How’ in the middle, and ‘What’ on the outside. He argues that all companies explain what they do and how they do it, but only a few identify and communicate their ‘Why.’ These are the ones, he argues, that thrive and survive into the future, because they make a deeper connection with their audience.

I completely subscribe to Simon’s model, except for one word. I believe ‘Start with Why’ should be ‘Start with You.’

The problem with ‘Why?’

As I argue in my own book Marketing is Dead, Long Live Purposing, the problem is that people can’t think about their ‘Why,’ because the rational brain doesn’t understand the concept. It is only designed to answer two questions: ‘What’ and ‘How.’

Of course the rational brain is an amazing machine that can handle millions of thoughts and organise them into coherent ideas, thoughts and decisions. However, it does have one major flaw: cognitive dissonance – an ‘error in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the world around them.’ It happens when the brain sifts through the enormous amounts of information it is exposed to, then ignores potentially relevant information, because it has already reviewed and rejected it in the past.

Unlocking the secret.

So, can you place a filter over your brain to get answers to those deeper ‘Why’ questions that the rational mind can’t divulge?  Can you get answers to those elusive questions like ‘what do I stand for?’, ‘what drives me?,’ and ‘what is the purpose of my business?’

The answer is yes, you can. And the secret is meditation.

I’ve tested this process with over 200 people in the past six years, with great results.  It even works with the most rational of people – who are understandably skeptical before the exercise, then surprised afterwards by its effectiveness.

Start with You.

By focusing on ‘you,’ we remind ourselves that to help others we must first work out who we are and what we are capable. As the leader of a business, the manager of a team, or the champion of a brand, it is your responsibility to navigate it to success. And that means putting your heart and soul into it. Which means that business or brand must adopt certain aspects of your own beliefs and values.

The power of why comes from your customers’ and team’s belief in you.

You need to define the problem you (and your company / brand) were born to solve. And to do that, you first need to understand and define your Purpose.