What’s Your Why?

Business Principle

I’m currently reading the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek and LOVING it (which means there will probably be a whole bunch of future posts on it.) I have a love/hate relationship with those “duh I should have known that” moments, and this book is providing me with plenty of them. Sinek has it spot on when it comes to inspiring leadership, company culture, effective marketing and incredible long-term success. He dissects the successes of Apple and Southwest Airlines, so if you love those companies (and who doesn’t) then you will love this book.

Senek illustrates the power of starting with “why” by using examples like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright Brothers. They were all excellent at communicating their “why” and that lead to their inspiring success. They had a cause, a belief, and a passion that attracted like-minded people to join them. Advancing that cause was more important than anything, including turning a profit (which almost always follows as a result). Decisions were made based on the “why” and not based on ROI or earnings per share.

Scriptural Support

There’s another great example of someone who started with “why” and created a movement. He is an influential leader from the Bible who taught this same principle – Jesus. His cause was well articulated and he always made it His first priority. In fact, He put it ahead of His own personal comfort and safety. His message resonated with people and he gained a tremendous following. In Mathew 6:33 he teaches the principle like this: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” In other words, when you put your “why” first everything else (profits, ROI, etc.) will fall into place. Anytime we follow the Savior’s example we can’t go wrong.

Comments: What do you think? Do you know of any other inspirational leaders that start with “why?” What happens to the culture of a company with a deep cause like this?

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One thought on “What’s Your Why?

  1. In my business, we had a why that stemmed from some very basic values – treat people with respect, treat them fairly, and always be honest. While we occasionally got taken advantage of by people, the cost of the practice never outweighed the tremendous benefit of it. We never advertised more than putting our name in industry-related books (relatively nominal costs), a few flyers one year (gave drivers an incentive to put them up places they went), and business cards. Still, we constantly received word of mouth business because of the name we built over the years. That business, which I’m no longer involved with, just finished a record year in sales and profits for its history, showing that maintaining that value system pays off over time.

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