Not just Why – What & How are just as important
In his popular book “Start With Why”, author and speaker Simon Sinek says, essentially, that we need to understand why we do what we do if we want to be successful. And he’s right. Without the driving force of a true purpose behind our activity, we will never achieve the heights we are capable of.
Where I differ, is that I don’t believe your “Why” is the right place to start.
Let me explain why I say that: what we have a passion for doing, and what we naturally do incredibly well, tends to be something that we have been doing all our lives. Precisely because it comes naturally to us – we don’t even have to think about it. It is our natural genius – and whether we are consciously aware of it, it is driven by our big Why.
What that means is that when we set out to improve our performance, that big Why is already part of What we have been doing. So the best place to start, in our search to truly understand our genius, is not Why we do it, but to clarify exactly What it really is.
When we truly understand What we do when we are adding our maximum value to the world, that is when we can properly identify and leverage our purpose. Knowing Why we need to be at our best without knowing What to do about it, that is a great recipe for frustration and, paradoxically, a lack of direction. When you could do pretty much anything, it’s very hard to decide what you should do.
And, of course, once we know What we do when we are performing at our very best, and we know Why we’ve been doing it all along, then the next thing we need to understand is exactly How we do it – the specific, actionable, day-to-day things that we can do right now, to bring the gift of our Genius to the world.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not disagreeing that knowing your Why is essential. Just that I’m not convinced it’s the most powerful place to start.