“Start With Why” By Simon Sinek – Book Review

start with why
start with why

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”Simon Sinek

Have you ever struggled to know what your WHY is with anything that you do? What is your purpose? WHY do you do the things that you do? Why do you believe the things that you believe? If you have struggled to answer just one of these questions, know that you are not alone. In fact, I believe that we all struggle with these questions on a daily basis. 

It was recommended by my manager that I read this book and find some ways to incorporate the concepts from this book into my daily work. Not that I am a bad employee who needs to understand WHY I am at work, but to help give me a greater sense of understanding my WHY so that I can continue to grow into the best employee that I can be. 

To be completely honest, it was a very good book. The concept behind the book is amazing and it’s one that I believe everybody needs to do a better job of paying attention to.

But I will also admit that it was a little too repetitive for my liking. I am a person who loves to hear about the success of many individuals, and in Start With WHY, a lot of the companies that Sinek kept referring to were companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, etc. All of them are great companies with some of the best leaders we know, but for my personal liking, I guess I am also intrigued to hear similar stories of recent underdogs. That’s just my opinion though.

Summary of Start With WHY

Take a company like Apple for example. What makes Apple so popular? Sure, they make phones and computers, but so do several other companies. What makes Apple so intriguing and likable is their ability to follow their WHY. Their WHY is simply to challenge the status quo in everything that they do. They don’t have the best devices out there, nor do they have the cheapest. But it is their ability to stay true and follow their WHY that has built them what Sinek refers to as a “cult-like following.”

In looking at your own life, it’s important that you too follow in Apple’s footsteps and not only understand what your WHY is, but also that you stay true to your WHY. Following your WHY and your purpose is what’s going to separate you from others, it’s what’s going to give you the drive to keep moving forward despite the many obstacles that life throws at you, and it’s what’s going to provide you with that sense of meaning and fulfillment in life. 

Believe it or not, it’s also going to determine how successful you are and how happy you are. Sure, you might achieve quick, short bursts of success and happiness, but I am talking about long, sustained success and happiness. Let me explain.

According to Sinek, most leaders talk about WHAT they do. WHAT they do are the products or services that make them money. Some leaders are even willing to talk about HOW they do it – HOW they separate themselves from others. But very few individuals will ever talk about their WHY. Their WHY is the underlying reasoning behind everything that they do. In some cases, individuals forget their WHY, and in some cases, they just simply don’t know their WHY. 

Sinek’s main argument in the book is one that I have tried to focus on deeply since reading it. I have tried to stray away from WHAT I do and HOW I do it, and have tried to focus more on WHY I do everything that I do. It is our WHY that inspires action in a way that HOW and WHAT can’t. That’s because WHY is our purpose. It’s our feelings, our emotions, and our beliefs. HOW and WHAT are simply byproducts of our WHY.

Lessons From Start With WHY

What I do really like about the book is how Sinek cuts right to the core of why certain companies and leaders are successful, and why some leaders and companies fail. Just as the title of the book suggests, it all comes down to their ability to define their WHY and to back that up with their actions. When individuals and companies tend to lose sight of their WHY and get consumed by the HOW and the WHAT, that is when they tend to fail. 

Something that Sinek said in the book really resonated with me. Sinek says that “Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention.” What this means, or at least what it means to me, is that everybody starts with a WHY. Sometimes, though, we lose sight of our WHY and need to rediscover it. 

The reason that this resonates so well with me, is because, for a while, I felt as if I was losing my WHY for writing. My WHY is to help others through sharing my life, and I admit that I was prioritizing WHAT I was doing and HOW I was doing it to consume me. Not only was my writing struggling as a result of this, but I was also starting to lose my enjoyment for writing in the first place. It wasn’t until I rediscovered my WHY that I started to enjoy writing again. As a result, I believe that as of recently, I have written some of the content that I have ever written. 

It just goes to show that when you focus on your WHY, everything will fall into place just as it should. But when you focus on your HOW and on your WHAT, your WHY becomes fuzzy, and that’s when everything goes downhill. 

Losing Sight of Your WHY

One example that Sinek uses to best describe this is Walmart. Sam Walton founded Walmart to make it a place where the average American Joe could shop. He wanted to be the champion of the common man. Walton started out by placing Walmarts in rural areas where shopping stores weren’t popular and everything that he did was because of his desire to serve the average person.

As you can see in the image below and through Walton’s reasoning, he had a clear WHY. Because he had a clear why (which is the most difficult part of Sinek’s Golden Circle to fall in), the HOW and the WHAT fell into place. 

The Golden Circle from Simon Sinek

After Walton dies, however, Walmart lost sight of it’s WHY. Their WHY was no longer to serve the average person as Walton once did, and because of that, the business started to take a hit. The company became full of scandals, they became known for being a “cheap” store, and it became a company where it’s employees started to resent working for. All of this because they lost sight of their WHY. 

Finding Your WHY

What I am getting at, is that it’s incredibly important to not only start with WHY, but also to follow your WHY. If you don’t know what your WHY is, think about what you believe your purpose to be, think about what you are passionate about, or ask yourself what you would change if you only had one choice. 

After years of suffering from depression and an eating disorder, it is my WHY to share my story to help inspire others to live the best life that they can live and to avoid making the same mistakes that I have made. I don’t want to look back when I am older and regret not doing more with my life. I want to live the best life that I can live and I want to help others do the same as well. 

Whatever it is that you want to do with your life – whatever that desire is that lives deep inside of you – follow it with everything that you have. When you live your WHY, life will become a lot more enjoyable and meaningful. 

Is It Worth It To Read Start With WHY?

Personally, I believe it was worth it to read Start With WHY. The concept of the book is amazing, and it is one that I believe everybody should live by. For that reason alone, that is why I think you should read it.

But as I mentioned earlier, this book was also a little too repetitive for my liking. I get that Apple, Bill Gates, the Wright brothers, and Southwest have done a lot right and make good examples behind Sinek’s concept. I am just a person who enjoys reading the success stories of many individuals, not just about the world’s most popular and renowned individuals. 

Either way, I do believe it’s worth it to read. Even if you get bored after a while and don’t read all of it, you will still understand the importance of starting with WHY.

Michael Bonnell

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