In Start With Why Simon Sinek shared with us what he believed to be a common trait the most influential leaders share. These leaders or visionaries share a gift or a secret that most of us do not fully understand. They Start With Why. They set the stage, communicate a dream and instigate a movement.
Don’t believe me? If you have not seen it before then you should take a look at Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech. The movement starts with a dream he shares to the people. He makes the dream crystal clear and shares it with the world.
Now look how President Obama changed the ‘I have a dream’ speech and created the ‘I believe’ speech.
When President Obama said:
“I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists that something better awaits us as long as long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting”
he inspires me, not with an empty promise nor a quick win but with the conviction that within each of us lies the power to make this life free and beautiful. To make this life an adventure.
Yes, the greatest leaders have a gift to communicate their vision and inspire us but Simon has summarized it for us.
- Start with why – Enter your dream, your vision, your perfect world
- Explain how your dream unfolds to the people en let them dream with you
- Show what you will do, are doing or have done to make your dream into reality
The simplicity of Start With Why goes well beyond most leadership books and I have used the concept to become more valuable.
You see it does not matter what you do, it is why you do it!
In my post Why Be More I told you about the burning desire inside me to be more valuable and how it took me 8 years to take action. School didn’t inspire me and I’ve always followed my own path rather than conform to a group. Achieving good grades was not a priority and I didn’t feel the need to measure myself against fellow students. I did have a great economics professor in high school who inspired me to study economics. In college I cruised along but again I didn’t really care for the grades. I failed to understand why I should apply myself to get an A for a test or exam.
By not questioning why you do the things you do, you risk losing touch with your true longings. Before long, you ignore that completely and you’ve conformed to do things because they’re expected of you. You no longer do things out of an intrinsic motivation but are driven through external influences.
You’ve become a puppet dancing to the puppet master’s tune.
Your Why needs to be yours! You own it, you control it, you influence it! It doesn’t matter whether you are an entrepreneur, a student, an employee, a mother, a father, a son or daughter . Your why is yours to define and you are free to choose how as well as what it will mean to you.
Take a look at a couple of Why’s of others:
Steve Jobs: ‘I want to make a dent in the universe’
Martin Luther King: ‘I have a dream’
Bill Gates: ‘A PC on every Desk’
There is a recorded Keynote where Bruce Springsteen addressed young musicians and inspired them with his words. Have a look and listen to what he has to say. What struck me deeply is how he captivates greatly the mindset you should strive for if you want to be more.
Be able to keep two completely contradictory ideas alive and well inside of your heart and head at all times.
If it does not drive you crazy it will make you strong.
What has changed for me today?
Today I wake up and I know why I go to work. My burning desire is to be more valuable. That is my Why. It does not matter what I do or how I do it as long as I feel that in the end I am doing something that is adding value to others. I want to matter, I want to inspire. I want to formulate a dream and live in a better world where we help each other build a better future. I believe that each and every one of us has the ability to dream and it is up to us to act upon them in our own way and contribute to our society.
Today I work as a consultant and help a team of developers create great products. I help where I am needed most and sharpen my skills on a daily basis. My goal is to serve the team so that they can shine.
As you might expect, the priorities of a business manager wanting the best product for the least amount of money and a software engineer wanting detailed requirements, time and the abundance of resources to develop amazing products isn’t the same. Therefore, it is my job to unhinge the business and IT positions and focus on a shared interest. It is my goal to unite!
In the end, my younger self was right. I didn’t need good grades to prove something to others. The insight that has transformed me so far is that I can choose to simply be more valuable. It has motivated me beyond my own expectation.
As a consultant I am not the expert. I am a helper and I feel that I’ve been effective in the past three years and am thriving forward every day!
In the end it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s why you do it!
It isn’t luck!
Again and again I hear people say that some people were just lucky. That it was mostly timing, good fortune and a series of coincidences that drove Mark Zuckerberg to create Facebook. I don’t believe this to be true. I believe Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many others share a common trait and have the clarity of their Why deeply rooted in their character and ethos. It is their Why that drove them to take action and build their dreams. It doesn’t matter what they did, it is why they did it. They did it for themselves and for the rest of society.
Have you ever wondered how Arnold Schwarzenegger went from Mr. Universe to action hero and then became Governor of California? Check out his motivational video and you will understand why!
It is his unwillingness to conform to the masses that led him to lead his life to peaks others can only dream of.
Charlie Chaplin said it best in The Great Dictator:
“You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness!
You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Let us use that power – let us all unite”
It is this simple insight that inspired me to take action and change my life and it can change yours!
Do you feel that burning desire? It is your Why trying to speak to you. Within you lies the power of Why but you don’t know what it is trying to say or how to wield its force. Do the hard thing and try to make sense of who you are now and who you want to be. Make that Why crystal clear for yourself and marvel at how you’ve just started to transform your life!
Today I want you to write down your why!
You’ll notice that writing down you Why isn’t easy the first time and it’ll feel weird. You might experience a writer’s block but that is exactly why you need to work through it. Once you’ve written down your Why it is no longer something fluffy living inside your head. It is out there, it somehow becomes alive and available to be read. If you don’t want to share your Why because you’re doing great, that’s fine too. Please add a comment and tell me about it.
Do me a favour, If you felt that this post was helpful to you or you know one or two people that would benefit by reading this then share it with them personally. My goal is to be more valuable so for that to be possible I need your help!
(This article was originally written for InspirationFeed)