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 Even if it is their internal unpublished memo, it might have evolved over a period of time.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

I want to “change”

“I want to change” is one of the most common endeavours for people.  For most people, the journey of self-improvement starts with the notion “things are changing fast, I need to adapt to survive and thrive” to “I need to change to improve”.

You might have come across many people who resist change, they prefer the status quo. They are in the comfort zone, there might be some underlying fear, that even they may not be aware of it. Unless they see a benefit of change, they may not even try.

Next are people who don’t want to change because they have given up after many unsuccessful attempts to change. Showing them the benefits of change will not work these people. They might benefit from a method or a technique.

This blog is for those people who have given up the hope of changing, to give them some alternate method to try out. This method is simple and others also might find value in this.

People who think “change is not possible”, mostly they have given up “trying to change”. They belong to the family of Parmenides School. The Parmenides, a great Greek Philosopher (515-450 BC) and founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy (universal unity of being) taught that change is not impossible.

If you think “change is possible” then you belong to the family of Heraclitus. Heraclitus, another great Greek Philosopher (535-475 BC) taught that there is an ever-present change in the universe. You also think that change is possible. 

For many years I was trying to ‘fix’ myself (after being motivated by the Self-Help books ) and failed miserably. I kept shuttling between Heraclitus and Parmenides schools.  

Earlier as soon as I realise that I need to change, I used to jump into action immediately. Suppose If I have to take care of my health. 

 I used to say “Ok, from tomorrow, I will go for running”, buy some expensive shoes with the justification “Yes, I’m buying for a good cause, it is not a waste of money”. Go for two days then order a Fitbit to track my progress. 

Take a break till the Fitbit is delivered but by the time it was delivered there was no motivation. Then I used to get some new insight that used to become my new area to “Change”. After a few failed attempts, I used to get upset and declare “change is not possible”.  This continued for many years. 

I used to think I’m becoming a zen master -like “accept what is and what is not” but in reality, I used to be frustrated.

Now my new approach to change is like this. 

First is the belief that “change is possible”. 

The proof is you can observe things changing around you. Look around and start watching. You are also changing but you are not noticing. Change is happening some desired and some undesired change. Next step is to bring the desired change. 

This can be broadly put into the following phases. 

Awareness 

The first phase is being aware that you want to create change in some aspect of your life. Usually, this comes in the form of a thought, an idea or feedback. Avoid the temptation to get into action. If it is critical, then the only step you should take is to write it down as clearly as possible. Nothing more. 

Acknowledge

The next phase is to acknowledge the change, it is an act of admitting the existence of that thought or that need. Suppose you realise that “I should lose weight”. You just acknowledge that I have a view or there a need for me to lose weight. 

Accept 

This is a significant phase, you should spend time and analyse before accepting it. You exercise your choice in accepting that thought. You might realise that the need for change has come out of some reaction, in that case, you can choose not to accept it. You need to be mindful of your arrogance/ego coming in your way to look at things objectively. It is better to accept the changes that arise out of your will than those coming from external sources. 

Act 

This is nothing but getting into action. It ultimately depends on the results you want to have in your life. Results come from taking actions. 

This is summarised beautifully by my favourite leader/guru Werner Erhard. 

“In life you wind up with one of two things – the results or the reason why you don’t have the results. Results don’t have to be explained. They just are.”

Award 

This is the one more important part, as you are taking actions, it is vital to have some award mechanisms to keep you going. Be generous, small rewards, but they do the trick. 

Yes. You deserve the reward for your efforts. 

Use these steps and evaluate and most likely that you have created the desired result and successfully implemented that change. 

Conclusion

Once you take actions consistently, the “change” becomes part of you. Then you are ready to take the game to the next level. 

I have found that jumping into actions is not sufficient, giving time for self has helped me tremendously. 

Consider you are already doing your best, don’t try to better your best.