In my last post – Beware of these 3 Things that can Kill your Dreams, one of the dream killers I talked about was the lack of a clearly articulated dream. In so doing I mentioned Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why. I also said that I will talk more about it in this post. I was introduced to the book by a colleague, and was able to find value in the core concepts shared.
There are several different approaches that we can take to help us clarify or purpose, mission or dream. But I enjoyed the approach developed based on the work of Sinek’s book. Based on that book, David Mead and Peter Docker in collaboration with Sinek, developed a guide titled Find your Why a Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team.
In this post I will share two salient points from Sinek’s book and the approach developed by Mead and Docker for finding your why as well as my testimony.
The Importance of Why
In his book, Simon Sinek observes, “very few people or companies can clearly articulate Why they do What they do. By Why, I mean your purpose, cause or belief.” The core message of the book is that when we know why we do what we do, we can go through life with intention, making decisions and taking actions that align with our why. While the book is written from the perspective of business, the writers assert that knowing your why, is a tool which can be used by an individual as well as an organization. For example, an individual can use it to improve his performance at a job interview or to inform his career path. An organization can use it to inspire a team, transform company culture or guide decisions and daily operations.
The Golden Circle
Sinek, came up with a concept he calls the golden circle. Each company or individual operates on three levels. What we do, how we do it and why we do it. Most know the what and the how, but not many know or articulate the why.
Why represents your purpose, your cause, what you believe.
How represents your process- the actions you take the realize your why.
What represents your product or service – what you do. This is the result of your why.
The Celery Test
Another cool concept which Sinek talks about, is the celery test. I love it! It is simple yet profound. Imagine you are at a dinner party and someone says to you, “you know what you need to boost your business, Oreos, that really worked for me.” Somebody else tells you that you need rice milk. Somebody else says, “you really should get M&Ms”, and yet another person tells you, “get celery, it is all about the celery.” So you go to the supermarket and you buy all these items. You spend a lot of time and money at the supermarket. But what is worse, when you are standing in line at the supermarket nobody can see what you believe, because what you bought did not necessarily correspond with what you believe.
But imagine that you know what your why is. Your why is to be healthy. Therefore, even though all the advice may have been good, you knew that your why is to be healthy. Therefore, you were guided by your why and only bought celery and rice milk at the supermarket. While you are standing in line everyone can see what you believe. Someone can look at you and say, you believe in being healthy, me too. As a result, you attracted a potential client.
This analogy demonstrates clearly that your why is what will connect you to people and customers. People are naturally drawn to that which not only satisfies a need that they may have, but which also represent their core values and interests. People are also drawn to those with whom they can identify. You are likely to attract more of the right people and business by clearly articulating your why, than if you do not.
Steps to take in Clarifying Your Why
I prefer the term clarifying your why, instead of finding your why because the truth is, your why or your purpose is not lost. Intuitively you know what it is and it has been with you all along. You just need to clarify it and bring it into focus. The practical guide book offers a simple three step approach to clarifying your why.
First, gather your stories, next identify common themes that emerge from your stories and finally write your why statement, based on your emerging themes.
It is advisable that you do the exercise with another person that you trust. Someone with whom you will feel comfortable sharing details about yourself. Your partner has to be a keen listener and know how to ask probing questions as needed. Your partner should make notes in the order of fact/experience, contribution or impact and meaning or feelings associated with the experience.
Because your why is at the core of who you are, looking at your past experience, the people you have influenced and have been influenced by, contributions you have made and highs and lows in your life are helpful. As you reflect on your experiences and decide on which stories to share with your partner some helpful questions to ask yourself are, what is your earliest childhood memory? Who in your life helped make you the person you are? At school what is an experience you loved? What is a pivotal moment in your life?
The next step would be to identify the emerging themes. As you and your partner examine the stories you would notice certain themes begin to emerge. For example, you notice that you have always wanted to protect others or you have always been apt to public speaking or that you are always taking the opportunity to entertain others. Look for the prominent themes.
After identifying the themes, you should then draft your why statement. In doing so, focus on contribution and impact. For example, To———–so that————. Once you have drafted your why statement you can revisit it and refine as much as you like.
I emphatically believe that we were all created with the purpose to serve God and humanity. Our gifts and abilities are the vehicles through which we provide that service. We are given our gifts not for ourselves, but for others.
To be completely transparent, it took me a long time before I owned my gift of voice. I thought that could not be it, it was too simple, it must not be linked to my purpose. However, when I look over the experiences of my life, my fondest experiences involved me using my voice. I feel alive when I am writing, speaking before an audience or engaged in stimulating conversation, especially conversations about personal growth, self-improvement and life purpose and goals. Using our voice is not just about casual talking or engaging in idle chatter. Our voice carries so much power and there are many avenues through which we can use our voice. With our voice we have the power to change lives.
When I eventually owned my gift, I wrote a few goals down but it still remained a bit abstract in my mind. However, when I decided to write my why statement, I experienced so much clarity. I also felt a greater sense of empowerment. There is something awesome about the power of the written word. This is my why statement:
To use my voice through speaking and writing to inspire and encourage others to become the best version of themselves.
I trust you were able to find value in the information shared in this post. If you did and you want to learn more check out the books for yourself. Your why is really who you are at your core, it is what drives you. Think of your why statement as a guiding principle or mission statement by which you will operate. That is the way I like to think of it.
I am grateful to my colleague for recommending this book to me. If you are interested in other book suggestions, check out the post, 5 Books to Read for Personal Development and to Help you Soar ,where I recommend the top 5 books I read in 2020. Reading should form a part of any personal development plan.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Don’t keep it to yourself, share the goodness with a friend. 😊 See you in the next post!