The “Why” is the common denominator that author, speaker, and thinker, Simon Sinek, has concluded separate most uber-successful businesses and leaders from their counterparts and contemporaries. Hence the concept Start With Why.
However, “Why” is not enough. It was not enough for Martin Luther King Jr. It was not enough for Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc. And it was not enough for Sam Walton or the united States Air Force.
The “Why” needs “How” to bring the “Why” to life, author Simon Sinek goes on, or else “Why” cannot progress past being just an idea that no one outside the range of a voice will hear. “How” is the people and organizations to bring action to “Why”. Steve Jobs needed Steve Wozniak to develop the products and infrastructures to deliver his manifesto of “Think Differently” to the masses. Any “Why” needs people and institutions to bring the vision to life.
Once the “How” is established to clearly communicate the “Why” to the masses, only then will people, products, and philosophies be adopted and can spread like wildfire until they command a cult-like following of customers, employees, and believers. Sales, profit, customer retention, etc. are all metrics that cannot paint the true picture of any future outcome or missed opportunities. If businesses and leaders determine these are the only defining factors of “What” they are doing, then they will lose sight and clarity of their founding principles and will fail to communicate any actual innovation to the world.
Sinek argues that that these numbers focused organizations and businesses cannot create relationships with their customers, employees, or society, that are lasting or sustainable. These same companies and groups, found everywhere throughout our modern world, will resort to expensive and unsustainable manipulations such as discounting, fear tactics, peer pressure, and reduction of quality to achieve their goals. They will continue to chase their “What” until they destroy their businesses, or at best until they no longer matter or make any difference to the world. Additionally, these organizations of “What” without “Why” will create harmful decisions and policies at the leadership level that will result in the poor treatment of employees and customers. If they ever had commanded it, they will experience the loss of trust or outright apathy towards their brand, company, or ideas.
The author sights a sundry list of companies and leaders. He shares various thought-provoking and emotionally engaging stories that adequately emphasize his arguments. I thoroughly enjoyed the concluding story of Ben Comen, a high school cross country track team runner. Ben lives with cerebral palsy, but runs track anyway. Sinek relates Ben’s reason for running, and subsequently, continually falling and needing to pick himself back up to the book’s over-arching theme. Ben does not run the races to win them. He usually loses by as much as twenty minutes. He does not worry about beating the competition. His only competition is himself. His disability and those nagging voices that we all have of “You can’t do it!” are the only things he competes against. Therefore, Ben Comen’s race against himself is his race for himself. His “why” elicits emotions and drive from the other racers to come back after finishing their own run to run with Ben until he has finished. Sinek concludes that no one who chooses competition with others will ever receive similar treatment.
Sinek boldly envisions a world where businesses, nations, and individuals Start With Why. He wonders what the world would be like if everyone consistently remembers and acts based on “Why”. He believes in the need to clearly communicate a successive path to continue to deliver on the promise of “Why” after the original leaders pass away or pass the torch to next next generation.
I felt very connected with this book. I began reading as I returned from the proverbial “much needed” vacation from my job. I no longer held any passion for my job. My sense of purpose at my company, my own “Why”, as well as my company’s “Why”, had gone fuzzy and had become unclear. I was suffering from no longer caring and was stuck in the rut of just being content. Ironically, on my first day back from that vacation I got released by my company. Start With Why has helped guide me back in to the light. It assisted me on clarifying my purpose for working aside from the necessary accumulation of money. I will not seek employment with a company for just monetary gain or because they make cool stuff.
I inflected on what my values are and what is truly important to me. I rebuilt my resume, online presence, and expectations of the career I am working towards based on my own “Why”. I know what my “Why” is now. I also know that if my “How” is synchronized consistently with how I act and speak I will be successful in finding the new career that is right for me; our “Why”s will be in alignment. The culture, the people, and the work will all be just right. I will have opportunities to create relationships with like-minded people. I will be able to sustain my career as long as I, and my new company, consistently come from a place of “Why” in all we do and communicate.
Clarity of purpose and vision are the “Why” in Simon Sinek’s 2011 book Start With Why. It is a very intelligent book about leadership, success, and action that is written simply and accessibly. I highly recommend the book to anyone who is struggling with their own “Why”. To anyone who’s lost their way, as well as anyone searching for lasting, sustainable success in their future this book will speak to you in profound ways.
There is tons more content in Start With Why by Simon Sinek. A review cannot do service to the book, so go read it for yourself. Start With Why is targeted toward optimists, visionaries, and those who have lost their purpose or path. I believe anyone who wants to improve their life and find real, lasting success, and not just money, will find Simon Sinek’s concepts tremendously valuable and applicable.