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 Even if it is their internal unpublished memo, it might have evolved over a period of time.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.

Principles

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Principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning. The Cambridge dictionary defines this as a  basic idea or rule that explains or controls how something happens or works. Principles are more basic than policy and objectives and are meant to govern both.

Principles help organisations and individuals in navigating in the “right” direction. They are different than values. Values are subjective whereas principles are objective. They help you to navigate towards your “ true north”.

“Rather than thinking, ‘I’m right.’ I started to ask myself, ‘How do I know I’m right?’”.

Ray Dalio says “ Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.”  “Rather than thinking, ‘I’m right.’ I started to ask myself, ‘How do I know I’m right?’”. Ray Dalio is no ordinary man, founder of Bridgewaters one of the most successful and largest hedge fund management company.  

He has published the principles of life and work in his book “Principles”, here is the list my favorites from his book.

  1. Trust in Truth
  2. Realize that you have nothing to fear from the truth
  3. Be extremely open
  4. Have integrity and demand it from others
  5. Be radically transparent
  6. Don’t tolerate dishonesty
  7. Create a culture in which it is OK to make mistakes but unacceptable not to identify, Analyse and learn from them
  8. Don’t worry about looking good – worry about achieving your goals.
  9. When you experience pain, remember to reflect.
  10. Teach and reinforce the merits of mistake based learning.
  11. Be assertive and open-minded at the same time.
  12. Remember that almost everything good comes from having great people operating in a great culture.
  13. Recognize that people are built differently.
  14. Hire Right, because the penalties of hiring wrong are huge.
  15. Understand the difference between managing, micromanaging, and not managing,
  16. Put things in perspective
  17. Go back before going forward.
  18. Recognize the Power of Knowing How to deal with Not Knowing.
  19. Remember that the Root cause is the reason, not the action.
  20. Understand and connect the dots.
  21. Don’t try to please everyone.

Out of the above #1 and #12 are my favorites. What principles resonate with you?

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Here are the selected References.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/

http://www.businessdictionary.com/

https://www.bridgewater.com/

https://www.principles.com/

Raghavendra (Raghav) Mithare is a consultant and coach at ProcessWhril Management Consulting, based in London.  (rmithare@processwhirl.com)

 

 

Three pitfalls

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As I was undergoing my training to become a coach, I had the privilege of working with a wonderful coach.

One day when I was sharing with him that I was feeling a little low, he shared something that made a difference to me .

What he revealed to me was this –

Consider whenever you are in a bad mood or feeling low, you are most likely to be trapped in one of the below three pitfalls.

The three pitfalls,

#1. Comparing

#2. Complaining

#3. Competing 

The first pit fall is you are “comparing” with others, or your current situation with past situations or with some expectations. 

Majority of the times you keep comparing yourself with others – in schools it was the other guy/gal who got the better grades and today it may be a friend who is in a better position in terms of role, income or recognition. Look and see if you are trapped in some kind of comparison.

The second pitfall is “complaining”. You may be upset because of some unfulfilled expectations. It can be from people, systems and processes around you, society, current state of affairs, traffic, pollution, environment, global warming, etc. etc..

When you are in a complaining mode you are in trapped in the second pitfall.

And the last pitfall is you are trying to compete with others and you want to be ahead at times. When you are not ahead you feel a sense of losing. If it is healthy competition it is fine, but this is about the competition that drains your energy.

As a human being these are our natural pitfalls. But being aware of these help us to come back to our normal self.

As such these are not bad things but you need to be aware when the above feelings are not leaving you empowered.

Comparing is good when you are planning your next goal for development. It is good to look around, compare and then set your goal, and create a plan to accomplish it. But there is no point comparing every day.

Complaining is required to bring any unresolved issue to the attention of relevant authorities.  For instance, if the street lights are not working or if you have lost your baggage it is good and sometimes necessary to complain to the relevant authorities.

Competition is good as long it is healthy and you are growing.  A competition with your own self can be very beneficial.  

Hence while comparing, Complaining and Competition can be healthy, it is important to be aware about your own self and ensure that you don’t fall into the pitfalls of these emotions.

 Hope it helps you as well.

Raghavendra (Raghav) Mithare is a professional coach and a scrum master, based out of London. Feel free to share your opinions, comments and feedback. You can reach him at mithare@gmail.com or +44 78216 45866