People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.Simon Sinek
In today’s world we have the luxury of unlimited resources available within an arms reach. Search engines like Google provide a platform to unlock almost any question and reveal any occurrence in recent history. Our ability to educate and better ourselves is simply unprecedented. Why then am I so quick to deem a 20 minute speech by Simon Sinek the single most impactful resource with regard to my development and personal accomplishments? The answer is that this simple concept is at the root of every decision we make and has the ability to positively transform all aspects of our lives.
Why is it that some people succeed and others don’t? We all have access to the same resources, don’t we? Why is Apple (the example Simon continuously uses throughout his presentation) consistently leading the way as far as technological innovation while its competitors fall behind? The answer is simple. Apple knows their “Why.”
The image represented here depicts a 3-layered circle. The center, or innermost layer, is labeled “Why,” the middle layer is labeled “How,” and the outermost layer is labeled “What.” The difference between those who find success and those who don’t often comes down to how they identify with this circle. The majority of people, companies, and organizations start with “What” and work their way inward, whereas the greatest leaders and innovators of our time start with “Why” and then proceed to the outer layers.
To put this into context I’ll highlight the example used by Mr. Sinek comparing Apple’s outlook to its competitors. The following illustrates a marketing pitch used by an average, run of the mill computer company:
(What) We make great computers. (How) They’re beautifully designed, easy to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?
Notice how the pitch starts on the outside of the circle and works it’s way inward. Now let’s look at a marketing pitch from Apple:
(Why) With everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. (How) The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. (What) We just happen to make computers. Want to buy one?
Apple’s pitch emphasizes that people buy a vision, not an approach. It’s part of the reason we are also comfortable buying a phone, MP3 player, or DVR from Apple; their “Why,” or belief system, resonates with us.
Admittedly, anyone can sit at their desk and proclaim that this message is life changing. I’d like to take it a step further, however, and explain why I personally find it to be so valuable. The first and most important reason is that I have seen tremendous results upon implementation, both from a business standpoint as well as in my personal life. When you know what your company stands for and are in tune with your purpose, it establishes a foundation for everything else. By starting with my “Why” and working outwards, I was able to take a step back, narrow my product offering, and readjust my approached toward consumers. In a field with thousands of competitors, it reiterates a simple reality: no one owes me anything simply because I work “hard.” The victory lies in getting people to believe what I believe, to feel something with regard to my message. That is the alpha and the omega.
From a personal standpoint the effect is similar. Have you ever asked yourself who you are? What your purpose is? They are awkward questions to say the least, but upon asking them something truly interesting happens. You start to see discrepancies between your actions and your “Why.” Being cognizant of this allows you to transform not only your image, but also how you feel about yourself and interactions with those around you.
The other aspect that has enabled such progress is the concept’s adaptability to a multitude of scenarios and the simplicity by which it operates. I have found that the most profound truths are often the most concise; a simple change of perspective that completely rearranges the world around you and all it has to offer. At the root of every action there is a purpose, albeit some more evident than others. Finding this, holding onto it, and allowing it to drive your action will change the world around you and your narrative within it.
By Eddie Pinero @eddiepinero2
Read Sinek’s Start with Why: http://amzn.to/1XX8rIH *Compensated Affiliate