Start With Why
At the end of last year, I read Start with Why by Simon Sinek. It's a business book that suggests the difference between successful companies and ailing companies is that the successful organisations align all their actions with their "Why" - focusing on why they do what they do, not what they're doing.It's made me think about Becoming Who You Are. It's made me go deeper, right to the root of what motivates me to work on the site. It's given me a clearer purpose and, consequently, a shed load of potential future projects.It's made me think about why I'm doing this.The answer?We come into this world full of potential, preferences, needs, desires and ambitions. These often get distorted or even crushed by conditioning along the way. I want to inspire people to feel liberated, to live the lives they really want to live, free from social, cultural and familial constraints. That's authentic living, and if it sounds like that's what you want, I hope you'll join me.Getting back to the post, this question also got me thinking: how often do we start with why in other areas of our life?Here's an example Simon uses in the book to illustrate the difference between 'what' and 'why'.Two bricklayers are working on a building site. You go to the first bricklayer and ask him what he's doing. He responds that he's laying bricks. You go to the second bricklayer and ask him the same question.He responds "I'm building a cathedral".Laying bricks is the what - it's the action involved. Building a cathedral is the why - the ultimate purpose, the bigger vision and, in some contexts, the values behind the action.Whether we're starting a new business venture, project or action, how often do we really think about why we're doing it, instead of focusing on what we're doing?Why do we spend our time in certain ways?Why do we focus on certain activities?Why do we choose to hang out with certain people?Why do we go to our jobs?We are most likely to find fulfilment if we start with why, not what we are doing.
All humans are master-justifiers of their actions, no matter how half-baked those justifications are. It's challenging to take a long, hard look at why we're doing certain things and admit that what we're doing doesn't align with our expressed values.So keep asking yourself why. Question the shit out of your motives, especially if part of you tries to minimise or negate the question."Why do I meet up with Deirdre every Saturday morning even though we no longer have much in common and she frequently criticises my current life choices?"Oh come on, she's not that bad.Why do I meet up with Deirdre every Saturday morning?Because it's part of my routine now, and it would feel strange not going anymore.Why do I meet up with Deirdre every Saturday morning?Because she keeps asking me to.Why do I meet up with Deirdre every Saturday morning?Because I wouldn't know how to tell her I don't want to hang out with her anymore.Why do I meet up with Deirdre every Saturday morning?Because, even though she's far from my ideal breakfast buddy, I'm scared of being alone.Ah.
How to get less 'what' and more 'why'
When we discover that we're spending our time on the what, but that there's no good why behind it, or that the why doesn't align with our values, we keep questioning.Why am I spending something that doesn't align with my values?We don't just do random stuff for the sake of it - there will be a reason or belief behind your actions, even if it's not immediately clear. It could be as explicit as a key lesson you were taught as a child, or as subtle as a social message that comes from your culture.What can I do to make my time more meaningful?Identifying instances where we're spending our time in a way that isn't aligned with our actions doesn't mean we should necessarily stop doing that thing altogether if we don't want to, or don't feel ready to. It's possible to find a middle ground, where we can shift our actions to be more in line with our values and more meaningful to us.In the case of Deirdre, this might look like setting boundaries with her: explaining your feelings when she criticises you and asking her to stop. Listening to the fear of being alone, you can also make a conscious effort to reach out and meet new people so that you don't feel socially dependent on someone who isn't accepting and supportive of you.How can you Start With Why in your life? Are there any areas where this feels a bit foggy? Leave a comment and let me know.Image: e-magic