Think Different…Start with Why (Part 2)

In my last post, I introduced you to Simon Sinek and his concept of the Golden Circle, which illustrates how inspirational companies set themselves apart. If you haven’t read it I encourage you read Part 1 first by clicking here.

Manipulation is the way most companies try to convince people to buy their products. It focuses on quality, features, price or service. These are not bad things, per se, and they definitely work… but only in the short term. This is the How, and it exists in the part of the brain that controls language (cerebral cortex). That’s why it’s easy to quantify.  Unfortunately that’s not where decisions are made.

It’s Biology, Man!

The concept of Why is grounded in the tenants of biology.  It exists in the part of the brain, the Limbic System, that controls all our behavior and feelings (like love), but doesn’t control language. That’s why we default to statements like, “It just feels rights” or “I love that brand” to describe how we relate to the most inspirational companies.


“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
— Simon Sinek

When we understand why a company does what it does, we are more forgiving when they slip up.  When a company’s Why is fuzzy, we default only to the rational, tangible things (the How and the What) which leaves little room for grace. Why is that? Because when we find people or companies that believe what we believe, trust emerges. Just think of your own experience. Don’t you trust the recommendations of friends & colleagues more than advertising from some faceless company?

Steps to Discovering Your Why

So how do you discover your Why? It’s born out of our own experience and is usually fully formed by the age of 20.  All the decisions we make from then on either keep us in balance or out of balance with our Why.  If yours still feels fuzzy, walking through the following steps may help.

  1. Think back to specific times when you absolutely loved what you were doing. This could apply to your personal life or a project at work. Times where the only way you could describe the experience was, “I absolutely loved it!” and you wished everything could be like this.
  2. As a contrast, think of those times in life when you hated what you were doing and you’ll find that the things that were there when you loved it weren’t there when you hated it.
  3. Then look for the patterns. What did they have in common? What was driving those decisions? What was so fantastic about it? Dig and dig and dig until you can go no deeper.

The rest of your life is simply the opportunity to bring your Why to life!

Question: What’s a time in your life (or specific project) when you were operating in your Why… when everything just “clicked?”