Don’t start with “Why?”

Don’t start with “Why?”.  Fans of Simon Sinek may not agree with this statement. His famous video “Start with why?” has more than 8 million views and his book with the same title has sold more than a million copies. My assertion of “Don’t start with why?” is based on my own experience, experiments, and learnings from them. 

What I have discovered is  – It is not easy to start with the “Why?” – When you watch Simon Sinek’s Ted talk “Start with why” it makes perfect sense to start with the why. The examples of Apple and Dell clearly illustrate this point. But the point is, not about analyzing Apple vs Dell. It is about you and your life.  You need to look at the responses to the following questions. 

Are you inspired to take action? Are you living every day with joy and happiness? Are you creating the results that impact you and the people around you?. If the response to any of these questions is “No” then you might want to consider an alternate approach. 

Before I explain an alternate approach let’s look at the flaw in the  “Start with why?” approach. All the examples quoted are from the past and there is a strong hindsight bias around them. It is easy to connect the dots looking at the past and very difficult while staring at an uncertain future.

When you read/hear the why of apple it makes perfect sense but we don’t know if it was created in the beginning or it has evolved over time. 

 “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. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” 

First of all the above statement is Simon’s interpretation of Apple’s why? and it is not published. Even if it is their internal unpublished memo, it might have evolved over a period of time. It also becomes easy to articulate the why once you are reasonably successful. 

Last year I completed my professional coaching qualifications and I have written a blog on “Becoming – Why I choose to become a coach?”. When you read the blog it makes perfect sense to relate the story of the eagle with my purpose of exploring the potential.  But it was not clear to me about the “Why?” until recently, in hindsight, I can connect the dots and share an inspiring story. Most of the time the real why is hidden deep inside us so no point in spending time to find it. It will come naturally over a period of time. You should not wait to take action till you discover your “Why?”. 

The alternate approach you can consider consists of two parts. The first part is “Just Do It”. Yes, the famous Nike words. The founder of the Wieden+Kennedy agency, Dan Wieden, credits the inspiration for his “Just Do It” Nike slogan to Gary Gilmore’s last words: “Let’s do it.” 

Whatever goals you have in mind, you just start the action. If you want to learn “Guitar” – sign up for a class and start the lessons, if you want to write a book, just start writing.  You just get into action.  There is no time to think about the “Why?” behind.  The one metric you need to measure or observe is the inner intuition of “am I in the right direction?”. As long as you are moving in the right direction it is fine. The second factor is you should enjoy the journey. 

The second part of the process is “Non-finito” – the literal meaning is “not finished”. Give yourself permission to abandon your projects unfinished. If the guitar is no more interesting then stop it and join whatever interests you at that point in time. Here it is important to be in action and not to become lazy. You are in charge and you are in action – that is the most important part. It is okay not to finish your projects, though your projects are unfinished, give them some logical end and complete them from your list. The famous sculptor Michelangelo is famous for many non-finito projects. If you are planning to create a masterpiece, be ready to give up a few average projects. 

Over a period the real “Why?” emerges then you don’t need any external motivation and you start taking action and creating great results. 

This approach has served me well. I’m happy to hear your views and thoughts on this approach.

Happy new year 2022!! have a great year ahead.