What inspires you? What activities do you love to do and which ones do you avoid? Is your life exactly what you would like it to be? Simon Sinek believes every individual and organization has a purpose, though not everyone has found theirs or has put it into words or action. For me, I like to make the world a better and happier place; for myself and those I love the most. This includes my wife, family, friends, clients and community. What makes me feel really good is to be able to help others and provide great solutions and options, particularly in financial matters.
Mr. Sinek’s book, with David Mead and Peter Docker, Find Your Way can be helpful to people of all ages. Mr. Sinek is a best-selling author, coach and popular TED Talk speaker. Mr. Sinek is not the first author to discuss the concept of “Why” or “purpose.” In 1946, psychologist Victor Frankl suggested that finding your meaning is the driving force in a happy life rather than money, power or consumption. Frankl argued then and Mr. Sinek concurs now that everyone has a unique purpose that they must discover. Mr. Sinek says we need to start by finding our “Why.”
What is Your Purpose? What motivates you? Why do you spend your days the way you choose to do? Are you the kind of person you want yourself to be in every aspect of your life? Dr. Sinek believes that by your late teens your purpose and who you are is pretty well fixed. He believes that life-changing events (e.g. job change, having children, health issues, divorce and others) may temporarily divert you from your purpose, but it won’t basically change who you are.
The Benefits of Discovering Your Purpose:
- When you know your purpose, you engage in activities that fulfill you- work, hobbies and other pursuits that make you feel good and that you’re part of something bigger. As psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized, one of our five basic needs is to have self-actualization or fulfillment of our potential.
- Finding your purpose makes you more persuasive in having others join you including family, friends, customers and fellow workers.
- Knowing your purpose helps you make better decisions. This allows you to direct your time and efforts to those areas that are of most important in helping you fulfill your purpose.
Your Purpose is at the Core of All you do. Mr. Sinek illustrates this with his Golden Circle, composed of three concentric circles:
- The inner circle is the Why. This is the purpose that orients everything you do. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning, the mission you stand for and hopefully how you spend your day.
- The middle circle is the How. This is how you live your life and how other people view your actions.
- The outer circle is the What. These are the tangible outputs you create or help create; such as your job, projects, health, family and others.
Sinek believes you should “Lead with your purpose.” Most people start on the outer edge of the circle. They focus on the What or outcomes. In business, they start by talking about the product or the service, e.g. financial adviser. Others talk about How they do things- such as the design or process. Sinek believes that starting from the inner part of circle, The Why, and moving outwards, allows you to first share with other people your purpose and mission and allows you to forge an emotional connection to those who share similar feelings.
Mr. Sinek points out that our brain is similar to the Golden Circle with three major components. The outside layer, corresponding to What, is our Homo sapien brain, our neocortex. The neocortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought. The middle two sections are our limbic brains, which are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. The limbic portion is where we do all of our decision making. Yes, people can rationally understand tons of facts and figures and features and benefits but those don’t drive behavior. Emotions do. And, often people make gut decisions (using the limbic brains) and then fill in the appropriate rational data (from the neocortex) to support the gut decision.
Identifying Your Purpose:
- Select a partner or facilitator to help you identify themes in your life. The partner should be objective, curious and perceptive.
- After listening to each story you present, the partner should ask “what” questions rather than “why”.
- Tell your stories to your partner. Describe events and situations that represent times when you felt you were doing what you really wanted to do and being the kind of person you really wanted to be. Identify the feelings and emotions you had at the time. The partner should take notes, highlight recurring words or concepts and help you get to the core of the story.
- The partner should identify themes, your unique participation in the story and how others benefitted from your participation.
- Next, draft your purpose statement which includes the core action your purpose compels you to take and the ultimate impact you want to have. The authors suggest you capture “what feels right.”
After you have found your “Why.” Determine your How which is the way you operate when you are at your best and using your strengths and best qualities. Then share your insights with others. Talk with friends and get their input. When you meet new people, start with your purpose (your why), not your how or what.
Purpose-driven people and organizations are more successful, fulfilled and happy. They contribute more to the world around them, according to Mr. Senik. Finding your Why, means finding the single core belief that inspires you to follow the pursuits you choose and to be the person you want to be in all spheres of your life.
P.S. After I finished the draft of this blog, I realized that my presentation was entirely backwards, I went from what to how to why like I normally do. But, in fact, that method won’t likely produce as much interest from the readers as the other way around. That’s why I rewrote the first paragraph to talk about my Why and then rolled into the balance of the blog. My goal is to help our readers discover something that might help them. So, I started with the Why in hopes of generating some gut feeling buy-in that it was worth the time to read the blog and, perhaps, even consider using some of the thoughts expressed within. I hope you enjoyed it. And, I hope you are on your way to “Finding Your Why.”