Start with WHY…your purpose for existence

In the book, Start with WHY, author Simon Sinek has made the foundation of his work the examination of “WHY” – the exploration of who we are and what inspires us to act.

Sinek argues that our WHY is intuitively formed at an early age, as early as 17 or 18, and possibly sooner.  And the rest of our lives are spent through the inspiration of our choice or the frustration of our inability to achieve the purpose.

The Golden Circle

WHYThe Golden Circle, named by Sinek, finds order and predictability in human behavior.  It helps us understand why we do what we do.  By first asking WHY, there is compelling evidence of how much more we can achieve – personally and professionally.

Let’s look at the meaning of the terms in the Golden Circle, starting from the outside of the circle and moving inward.


WHAT:  Every professional and organization knows WHAT they do.  When asked, they are comfortable and confident describing the product, service, or solution their firm sells as well as the job function they have within it.

HOW:  Professionals and organizations are also schooled in HOW they do WHAT they do.  The HOW may come in a well-thought-out value proposition, unique process or customer experience.  In conveying the HOW, you may think that it enables you to distinguish your capabilities…to stand out in a crowded marketplace.  While it is a good beginning, Sinek teaches us that there is a missing element – the WHY.

WHY:  WHY is your cause, purpose or belief.  It is the essence of your professional existence.  It is the reason you get out of bed every morning.  Today’s consumers want and need to know WHY.  WHY you?  WHY your organization?  WHY you do what you do?  It is a given that your customers know WHAT and HOW do you what you do. That being said, it is your value and beliefs, not just the quality of your products and services, that create deep, long-lasting connections.

Very few people and organizations are able to articulate WHY they do what they do.  Why?  Because they don’t take the time to discover it.  They are too busy working on the HOW to justify the WHAT.  It is a shame because people notice the WHY and are drawn to it.  In today’s fast-paced, commoditized world, individuals and organizations are using tangible features and benefits to build a rational argument for HOW their product, service, or solution is better than another.  These well-intentioned professionals and firms are trying to sell WHAT they do, but they are missing the mark as consumers are motivated by WHY they do it.  When communicating from the inside out, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy, and the WHAT and the HOW serve as proof of that belief.

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