There is a guy named Simon Sinek, who has written a well known book, called “Start with Why”. He has also given a Ted Talk, and has a website with his name on it, and is probably making millions of dollars off of being Simon Sinek.
On Tuesday, 13 people read my blog.
So, I probably don’t have any business acting like I know more than Simon Sinek.
But, I don’t think we should “Start with Why”, I think we should Start with Who.
Sinek’s book focuses largely on the idea that we should, as businesses, leaders, and even as individuals, focus on why it is that we are doing the thing or things we are doing. He (intelligently) states that it is critical for us to have a well developed and strong why to guide our decisions and to help us refocus when things get challenging or when we get disoriented. Having a why to return to, can help us continue on when we may not enjoy what we are currently doing, when we are dealing with a difficult customer, employee, or parent, or when we are trying to make difficult decisions.
Obviously, those are are all really good points, and Sinek has a fancy website and a best selling book to prove that people agree with him.
And I don’t disagree that those things are important. I just think there is something more important. And I think it’s MUCH more important.
I think we should start with WHO.
When we determine who we are (self-awareness), who we want to be, and we we are willing to commit to becoming, it allows us to have a greater sense of direction than simply stating why we are doing something.
And, having a strong sense of who, will allow us to create a clearer and more purposeful why .
The other thing that I believe, is that our why can change, not only from situation to situation, but within the same job, or within the same season of life. Some days we may be getting out of bed excited to go to work because we are excited about what is taking place that day. Other days, we may have to remind ourselves that payday is right around the corner, and that, today, we are doing the important work of providing for our families. We may choose different things for different reasons. So it’s difficult to always have one central why.
Sometimes, we may have more than why, and sometimes, we may have a why that we may not be totally comfortable sharing. Sometimes, it IS about the money.
Sinek might argue (and he would win, because he has a great sounding name) that we should have a deep and meaningful why that allows us to “feel inspired and inspire others”.
I think that has more to do with who we are than why we are doing something. I’ve mentioned this before, but the phrase that I’ve latched on to in regards to this belief, is the idea of being Deeply Rooted.
I’d like to share an excerpt from the book I’m working on, Live a Rich Life.
I hope it offers some encouragement on how to examine and articulate your who.
You may find yourself in the dark sometimes, and not be certain why you are doing something during a particular season of life. This usually occurs to me about the time I’m settling student disputes that involve comments like, “He said when he grows up he is going to have more muscles than me” or reminding a student that going knuckle deep in his nose during class is generally unacceptable.
You can always know your who. Your roots can and should be constant. And to me, who you are and who you want to become, is the most important thing you have to guide you along in this life.
Thank you for reading.