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Start With Why - Simon Sinek

We are all aware of how it feels when we have been manipulated, used or found we have purchased something to find out later that what it promised did eventuate. The statistics also show that over 80% of people that go to work do not enjoy or connect with what they do, but continue with their lives because of money, power of feeling locked in because it supports them in living the lifestyle they "think" they want to live. If we understand the way God has made us think, process the world and make decisions we would not only make different decisions but live our lives in a totally new way. I encourage you to watch the short or long video of Simon Sinek presenting the talk "Start With Why" and think about the key points he has raised in his book and how God can challenge you to live life differently and you start with God and His "Why" for your life.

The starting point for us as Christians is to examine key people in the Bible and how they lived their lives. Jesus is our most powerful example of how to live starting with "why". Jesus spent 30 years of his life preparing for three years of ministry with 12 disciples in particular. He knew His identity and was intentional in staying in close communion with His Father, listening to Him and doing what He told him to do. Jesus was intentional in the way He lived and knew that by following His Father's plans He would be able to bring all people into an eternal relationship with God by dealing with sin on the cross. (Isaiah 53) Jesus had to wrestle in the Garden of Gethsemene (Matthew 26:36-46) between understanding why He was on the earth and following the will of His Father or giving in to his flesh. Joseph had to choose God's plan even when it did not make sense. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose to follow God's why when led into captivity by not eating the delicacies from the king's table. They did not understand the whole plan but trusted God and chose to follow Him no matter what. David knew his why but had to wait to become king in God's timing. For Saul, Samson, Judas and so many, they did not understand their "Why" and failed in the things God had given them to do.

There are two videos you can watch where Simon explains the "Golden Circle". One is the short, edited version and one is the longer version. Then I would like to outline a few points on what this means for us now.

Key Points from his book.

1. Why start with Why?

Simon gives a few examples of some different people and companies and how people who start with "why" are often more successful long term. An example was given of the competition to be the first to invent and fly an aircraft. In America, there were two main groups working to be the first to succeed.

a. Samuel Pierpont Langley - Worked at Harvard, a mathematics professor and was given a $50,000 grant from the government to be first. (In 1900 this was a huge amount of money) He put together an amazing team of talent, used the finest materials and were sure they would be first.

b. Wilbur and Orville Wright - Had no funding, no college training and worked part-time on the project in their bicycle shop to achieve their goal. They were so passionate to fly they inspired an enthused and committed team to support them to achieve their goal to make their vision real.

On December 17, 1903, the small group witnessed the Wright Brothers take flight for the first time in human history. They inspired the team around them with their "Why" and led their group to invent, create and produce the first flying machine. The better resourced and equipped team did not operate under a clear "why" and were beaten.

We can have the best credentials, be very well resourced and have a huge team, but without a shared "why" it is very hard to achieve long term success. Sinek says:

"For those who have an open mind for new ideas, who seek to create long-lasting success and who believe that your success requires the aid of others, I offer you a challenge. From now on, start with Why." (p.7)

2. What is the Golden Circle?

As we look at the golden circle, we see that there are three elements that a company or business must be aware of. Where you start is most important. Most businesses do not understand why they exist or it is not common knowledge. Understanding how these three elements work best will make a huge difference in the long term success of any company.

a. Why - This is not about making money. "Why" is the purpose, cause or belief that is the reason the company or business exists. Why do you get out of bed every morning and why do people care you exist?

b. How - Some companies know how they do what they do. This sets them apart from their competition. Some people can explain how what they do is better than their competition.

c. What - Every company or business knows what they do. This includes the what services they provide or what they sell. Everyone can describe what service they provide and what they sell.

When we lose our "Why", we move from just selling a product or selling a service. When we do this, we are not able to innovate or change as times change. To begin with, Apple created products with the following "Why". Sinek in his video says:

Let’s look at that Apple example again and rewrite the example in the order Apple actually communicates. This time, the example starts with why: 'Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?'

When other companies tried to compete with Apple, their desire was to sell computers by imitating what Apple was doing. Their goal was to sell computers. Apple, on the other hand, did not need to keep their eye on the competition, but was driven by their "Why". They did not care what the opposition was doing. They just concentrated on why they existed.

3. How Does Our Brain Work?

There are a few leaders who choose to inspire us rather than manipulate in order to achieve their goals. These leaders often use what is a naturally occurring pattern called the "Golden Circle". It is interesting that God also operates in three identities!

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, Romans 1:20.

This Golden Circle shows how we can achieve so much more when we remind ourselves to always start with a clear understanding of why we are doing what we are involved in.

When we look at the Golden Circle, we can see how the brain works. We often think rationally but base our decisions on feelings. Expressing what we feel is very difficult, but aligning emotionally with clients and customers creates connections much more meaningful than when we manipulate them. Our feelings can be communicated through understanding our "Why". When we understand the Golden Circle, we understand how the brain works.

a. Outer section - The "What" corresponds to the neocortex or the rational and analytical thought processing parts of the brain. This part of the brain processes language, rational and analytical thought. It helps us understand

facts, figures, benefits and features.

b. Inner Sections - The "Why" and "How". These correspond to the limbic system which is responsible for all behaviour and decision making including trust and loyalty. It is interesting to note that it does not have a capacity for language. The term "gut feeling" explains the decisions we make that are very hard to explain.

When we can put our feelings into words we can inspire ourselves, our colleagues and as a result, develop a customer base that is loyal and will not need manipulative techniques to keep them coming back.

4. How do companies manipulate us to purchase their products?

As there are so many products and services that are on the market that are similar and the same price, companies are constantly looking for a way to market themselves so they achieve an advantage over their competitors. Most of these are a form of manipulation, that look and sound good but do not leave you with a positive feeling about the company. Here are some examples:-

a. Price - Lowering price is an extremely effective way of selling your product. Short term it works, but long term the customer gets used to the low prices and will be reluctant to pay full price. As margins get smaller companies need to sell more to make the same amount of money so reduce prices to get more customers. It becomes a hard cycle to stop.

b. Promotions - An example of a promotion is a cashback offer when you purchase a product. Incentives can increase sales but reduce profit margins. When you reduce the incentives people are less inclined to purchase your product so you finish off in a worse position long term.

c. Fear - Causing customers to think that something bad will happen if they do not purchase the product. They could be told they will miss out, their health will be affected or they will lose the love of their family if they do not act now.

e. Aspiration - This is opposite to fear, but manipulates us to do things something they desire to achieve and a way of getting there. It could be a car ad that tells you that if you buy it you will have quality time with your family or mates. Losing weight, whiter teeth or being able to be more mobile are things we are told through TV ads all the time.

f. Peer Pressure - "Four out of five families use Fab detergent", "With over a million satisfied customers". There are so many ways people believe that everyone else is using the product or doing what they are selling so you should as well.

g. Novelty (Innovation) - Having a new product that is innovative, creative and desirable, people want to get on board and have one as well.

Even though manipulation so common in the business world, it does not produce long term loyalty. It only produces short term sales which are not sustainable. Businesses are addicted to short term solutions and go crazy in trying to find the next way to manipulate their customers so they can get more sales. This is a transactional approach and does not lead to customers coming back in the long term. To have repeat customers, you need to work on developing relationships with your customers. When times get tough, it is peace of mind knowing you have loyal customers that keep coming back. Creating a feeling that you are there for your customer long term is what a good leader works towards.


Even though Sinek talks about companies and businesses, the principles work for families and individuals as well. As I have been working with families, it has been an interesting journey in exploring the "Why" God has given each family and then how distance education school can help them achieve their "Why". There often is an uncomfortable silence when this is mentioned, but as soon as the idea is explored, I find that parents get excited and look for what God wants them to achieve as parents. For me, my "Why" came during my 3 days at Goomburrah in the frozen tent in 2015. God gave me Colossians 1:13 as my "Why" verse. "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love". God is showing me what it means to be conveyed into His Kingdom and as He does, I am excited about encouraging all the people that God places in my life to do the same.

What is your "WHY"?

Seek God and start living your life based on this "Why" He gives you. It will change how you get up in the morning, speak with others and live your life. When you live through your "Why", you will never look back!

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Benjamin Suthers
Benjamin Suthers

Very well written, I distinctly enjoyed it! It definitely makes you think deeply about the engine of you life.

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