Sometimes a project that seems like an easy victory to us turns into disappointment or even disaster. More importantly, sometimes we or our competitor cope brilliantly with a problem, although all the usual business forecasts tell us about failure. These results may seem mysterious, but in fact, they are quite understandable if we consider them from a position that begins with asking WHY.
In his book “ Start with Why?”, Simon Sinek uses a model that he calls the Golden Circle. This model explains how legendary executives, such as Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Wright brothers, were able to achieve what was unattainable for other hardworking and sometimes better-funded leaders.
If you’re already familiar with the Golden Circle, read Simon’s book, or have seen him talk about motivation / WHY at TED.com, this chapter will remind you of the most important points of the concept. And if the Golden Circle is new to you, then you will find out what the essence of the matter is, and this is a necessary preparation for your own search of the WHY.
Each organization and career of each person – work on three levels: what we do, how we do it and why we do it. We all know what we are doing: we sell products, provide services or perform work. Some of us know how we do it: in our opinion, this makes the difference between us or makes us stand out from the crowd. But very few of us can clearly articulate why we do what we do.
“C’mon,” you say. “Let’s be honest, aren’t most people working for money?”
Indeed, this is the obvious “why.” But, first, money is the result. And although it is part of the picture, far from salary inspires us to get out of bed in the morning. And for cynics who think that they or someone else really get out of bed for money, we ask the question: for what reason do they want money? To feel free? To travel? To provide children with a standard of living that they didn’t have? Or do they score by trying to show what they have done more than others?
The fact is that money is not something that makes people act. WHY is much deeper, if we strive to understand what motivates and inspires us.
It is the goal, cause, or belief that governs each organization and individual career of each person. Why does your company exist? Why did you get out of bed this morning? And why does anyone care?
When we meet new consumers or customers, the first thing we tell them is what we do. Then we explain how we do it or how we differ from competitors. This, it seems to us, is enough to conquer their business, change their point of view or convince them to take concrete actions. Further, the situation develops according to the following pattern:
We sell paper. We offer the highest quality products at the best price. Lower than any of our competitors. Want to buy?
This is a very rational feed. It clearly states what the company is doing, and there is an attempt to convince potential buyers to choose your product because of its features and advantages over similar ones.
And yet, although this approach may work from time to time, at best, using it will lead you to several recurring transactions. As soon as buyers find better deals, they will disappear, because such supply does not distinguish this particular seller from other companies in a truly meaningful way. Loyalty does not depend on features and benefits. Features and benefits are not inspiring. Loyalty and long-term relationships are based on something deeper.
Let’s try again. Let’s start with WHY:
What is a good idea if it cannot be shared? Our company is committed to helping spread ideas. The more people share these or other ideas, the more likely these ideas will impact our world. There are many ways to share ideas, and one of them is the printed word. This is what we do. We make paper on which words will be printed. We make paper for big ideas. Want to buy?
Quite another thing, isn’t it?
Starting with WHY, we made the information about the paper sold sound completely different. And if we did it for an ordinary product, imagine what can be done in this way for a product that can really stand out. This step is not based on facts and figures, features and advantages. They matter, but not paramount.
Starting with WHY, we focused on a deeper, more emotional and ultimately more meaningful thing. When we take the second step, we no longer talk about paper. We are talking about our company and its values. If the personal convictions and values of your customers coincide with the declared values of your company, that is, if they also believe in the importance of spreading ideas, they are more likely to want to do business with you, not only once, but again, and again, and again. In fact, they are more likely to retain loyalty, even if another supplier offers the best price.
In addition, doing business with a company that reflects their beliefs also characterizes them in a certain way.
Companies that inspire, companies that inspire trust and loyalty in the long term, make us feel that we are achieving something more, and not just saving dollars.
This same feeling of unity with something greater is the reason for the fact that we continue to wear the jersey of the sports team of our hometown, although they have not been in the playoffs for ten years. That is why some of us will always give preference to Apple products over other brands, even if Apple is not always the most affordable choice.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we are not entirely intelligent beings. If we were, no one would ever fall in love and no one would ever start doing business. Faced with the irresistible probability of failure, no sensible person would ever risk it. But we do it. Everyday. Because our feelings towards someone or something are more important than what we think of them.
There is only one problem with feelings. They are extremely difficult to put into words. That is why we so often resort to metaphors and analogues, for example: “Our relationship is like a train approaching a precarious bridge at high speed.” “When I get to the office, I feel like a kid on the playground again.” And although it’s not easy to get in touch with our feelings, in the end, winning is always huge.
When we emotionally coincide with our customers or customers, the connection between us becomes much stronger and more significant than any affiliation based on features and benefits.
And this is what begins with WHY.
And the best part: this is not our opinion. This whole concept WHY is based on the biological principles of decision making by humans. The way the Golden Circle works accurately reflects the principles of our brain.
The outer part of the Golden Circle, “WHAT,” corresponds to the outer part of the brain — the neocortex. The neocortex is responsible for language as a means of communication, as well as rational and analytical thinking: it helps us to understand facts and figures, features and advantages.
The two middle parts of the Golden Circle, “WHY” and “HOW”, correspond to the middle part of the brain, the limbic system. It is this system that controls our emotional behaviour and influences decision making. She is responsible for all our feelings, such as trust and loyalty. But, unlike the neocortex, the limbic system is not language-related. This is where our intuition lurks, in English gut feelings – to feel ” inside out.” Do we not connect intuition to support logic, when we make a decision, struggling to explain our choice?
This separation of brain structures is a biological reason why it is sometimes difficult for us to express our feelings with words ( “I love you more than words can convey”), explain our actions ( “The devil made me do it!”) Or justify our decisions ( “I don’t know … it just seemed right.”)
However, we can learn to put words into these feelings. And those who already do this inspire not only themselves but also their colleagues and clients.
Once you understand your WHY, you can clearly articulate what makes you feel satisfied, learn to better understand what drives your behaviour when you act in a certain way.
When you gain this knowledge, you will have a starting point for all subsequent actions. You will be able to make more informed choices regarding your business, career and lifelong. You will be able to inspire others to purchase your product, to work with you, to join your business. Never again will you have to play the lottery and act intuitively for reasons you really don’t understand. From now on, you will work purposefully and consciously.
From this point on, you will start with a fundamental question – WHY.