Have you watched the famous TED talk by author Simon Sinek? It’s one of the most-watched TED talks of all time that’s based on the author’s best-selling book – Start with Why. The book gets to the core of why certain companies and leaders are incredibly successful…
I read it a few years back, after receiving many recommendations. The book still is prevalent in my decision-making. Today, I wanted to share the basic idea behind this book and why I think it’s worth a read, especially for aspiring leaders, entrepreneurs, or anyone looking to find a more profound sense of purpose behind their work!
In my opinion, it’s one of the best books written on leadership, as the mission behind Start with Why is to encourage people to do work that inspires them and then communicate it in a way that inspires others.
So, let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
THE CORE CONCEPT AND THE 3 MAIN IDEAS DISCUSSED IN THE BOOK
The core concept of this book is simple and straightforward; great businesses know why they’re doing what they’re doing and use that as their guiding principle. Because people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it!
The book talks about 3 main aspects:
Define your WHY
Understand how your WHY affects your business
Make sure you stay focused on your WHY even in the long run
In other words, the WHY is a belief, the HOW is the actions you take to realize the belief and the WHAT is the result of those actions.
The Why, the How, and the What convey an essential concept discussed here: The Golden Circle. The WHY is your innermost circle, followed by the HOW circle, and then the WHAT forms your outermost circle.
Sinek explains that when you focus on your WHY, you’re building your business from the inside out. As a result, you inspire people to engage and believe in your product. These customers then become loyal to you and your company which builds your brand. Because to garner true loyalty, you need more than publicity.
Sinek says that all organizations know WHAT they do. Some know HOW they do what they do. But only a few can clearly articulate WHY they do what they do.
Most organizations start with what, how, and why. But only the most influential leaders and companies start with why – the purpose, cause, or belief behind what you do.
Further, Sinek points out that, unfortunately, many companies or leaders use fear or manipulation to control their staff. But these tactics don’t benefit the people or the business in the long run. Moreover, trust, loyalty, and a sense of commitment cannot be built on fear. Instead, Sinek explains why leaders must inspire their staff which in turn can create a positive impact on the overall productivity and profits.
In essence, great leaders inspire people, not just lead them. They don’t come up with all the ideas either. They create space for ideas to happen.
This brings us to the next point…
MANIPULATE OR INSPIRE?
Sinek believes that there are only two ways to influence human behavior. You can either manipulate it or can inspire it. We often see manipulative techniques applied in sales and marketing. However, these strategies do not lead to long-term success. They simply lead to transactions.
But when you apply the principles of the golden circle, it is grounded in human evolution. This part gets a bit technical… Our limbic brain is responsible for all our feelings and decision-making. Therefore, when you communicate with WHY, you talk directly with the part of the brain that rationalizes your decisions; it has no capacity for language. And that is the reason why most people have difficulty explaining why you did what you did.
In an organization, the WHY is your leader, the CEO with a vision. The HOW are your senior executives inspired by the CEO, who bring the vision to life. And therefore, the WHY people need the help of the HOW people in order to succeed.
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THE LAW OF DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS
Another interesting concept covered in the book is “How the Tipping Point Tips.” This concept explains how any idea spreads. It basically flows from one category of people to the other within the population.
Sinek describes this concept using 3 categories – Innovators, Early Adopters, and Early Majority…
Here, the innovators are idea generators. They push us to see the world differently and make up 2.5% of the population.
Next, the early adopters recognize the value of new ideas and are willing to ignore the imperfections because they see the innovation’s potential. They form 13.5% of the population.
The early and late majority are considered more practical-minded people who won’t try something new until someone else tries it first… They make up over 34% of the population.
Sinek explains that “mass market success can only be achieved when you penetrate 15 to 18% of the market. It is when you get to this tipping point, that your business or an idea starts to move at an exponential rate. It is at this point when an idea becomes a movement.”
For a business, your goal should be to find people who believe in what you believe. They are your innovators and early adopters. Sinek also mentions that refusing to consider the Law of Diffusion may cost you and your company in the long run.
Simon Sinek brilliantly encapsulates the essence of inspirational leadership in ‘Start with Why’ – It’s not just about what or how you do things, but the profound impact of understanding your ‘Why’. This is what sets apart great leaders and successful businesses.
The TL;DR is what you do and how you do it should be consistent with your WHY.
You may look for best practices for what to do or get a ton of ideas on how to do it… But if you’re clear about your WHY, you’ll know what’s the best option for you. The WHY is your filter for decision-making. Because when your WHY starts to get a little fuzzy, you begin to lose your way… So, always remember to Start with Why!
Have you read this book? What did you like most about it? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
For those interested in reading the book, you can grab your copy right here!