Finding Your Why: Part 1

Jann Freed Leading Comments

This post is written for everyone who wants to enjoy getting out of bed in the morning.  I am starting a series based on the books by Simon Sinek:  Start With Why and Finding Your Why.  After having the opportunity to see Sinek in person in New York in January, I am inspired to share what I learned from the conversation I witnessed and from what I have learned from reading his books. 

NOTE:  My next podcast interview is Friday, February 9th.  I hope you listen to my interview with Dr. Bob Weber, co-author of The Spirituality of Age:  A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older.

In order to understand what Simon Sinek means by “finding your why,” it is important to explain the concept he calls that Golden Circle.  “Every organization–and every person’s career–operates on three levels.  Imagine three circles drawn inside one another to illustrate:

  • What we do (largest circle)
  • How we do it (middle circle)
  • Why we do it (center circle)

Sinek says it is easy to explain what we do and most of us can explain how we do it.  But few of us can explain why we do it.  While we may think we are doing what we are doing for money, Sinek emphasizes that money does not inspire us.  “WHY goes much deeper to understanding what motivates and inspires us.  Why does your company exist?  Why did you get out of bed this morning?  And why should anyone care?”

“The WHY is a tool that can bring clarity to that which is fuzzy and make tangible that which is abstract.  The WHY can help set a vision to inspire people.  The WHY can guide us to act with purpose, on purpose.”

Discovering Your WHY

Step 1:  Gather stories and share them.

Sinek believes we start by looking at our past experiences that touched us–both highs and lows–and identify common threads.   He emphasizes reflecting and including the details in the stories in order to identify patterns.  The more specific the memories, the better.

Step 2:  Identify themes.

As you share stories, themes will emerge.  Sinek advocates working with a trusted confident–someone who knows you well to help identify your WHY.  It is a process that unfolds and takes some time, but it is important to try and enjoy the journey.

Step 3:  Draft and refine a WHY statement. 

Time to draft a WHY statement.  Make it:

  • simple and clear
  • actionable
  • focused on the effect you’ll have on others, and
  • expressed in affirmative language that resonates with you.

Put the statement into this format:

TO ________________ SO THAT ____________________________.

Just one sentence.  As Sinek points out, simple does not mean easy.  If our WHY is one sentence, we should be able to remember it and therefore act on it.  The first blank is the contribution you make to the lives of others.  The second blank represents the impact of your contribution.

According to Sinek, “It is a statement of your value at work as much as it is the reason your friends love you.  We don’t have a professional WHY and a personal WHY.  We are who we are wherever we are.  It’s the thing around which everything you do–the decisions you make, the tasks you perform, that products you sell–aligns to bring about the impact you envision.”

Sinek asks us to “trust the process.  It works.”

Start by reflecting on your past experiences and stories that you remember.

Draft a WHY statement. 

I am working on this also as I focus on my new initiative Beyond The Money (BTM).

Stay tuned.