All great inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers, they all think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’t the complete opposite to everyone else.
This little discovery, as Simon Sinek puts it, has profoundly changed the way he thought the world worked. As well as the way he operates in it. He calls his discovery: The Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is brilliant for it’s simplicity. It’s universally applicable for organizations big and small, project groups, and — best of all — for individuals like you and me.
In his over 20 million times viewed TED-talk, Sinek says:
Everyone knows WHAT they do. 100%. Some know HOW they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or unique selling point. But very, very few people or organizations know WHY they do what they do. And by WHY I don’t mean ‘to make a profit’. That’s a result. It’s always a result. By WHY I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why do you get out of bed in every morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, we think, act and communicate is from the outside in, it’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest. But the inspired leaders and organizations do exactly the opposite: They all think, act and communicate from the inside out.
WHY is your belief.
HOW are the actions you take to act on that belief.
WHAT are the (measurable) results of those actions.
I know what do to, it just doesn’t feel right
Imagine a company offers you a contract. The conditions are great. If you sign it now, you don’t have to worry about the financial future for quite some time. You know it would be smart to sign. But something is holding you back. And you cannot put into words what it is. It just doesn’t feel right.
Do you recognize this? This gut feeling? How is it possible? You know it would be wise to sign, but your feeling tells the opposite.
The reason is embedded in our DNA. Pure biology. When you look at the human brain from the top down, it can be broken down into three major areas, that correlate perfectly with The Golden Circle:
The outer part is the neocortex. The neocortex is responsible for all of our analytical and rational thoughts and language. It corresponds with the WHAT-level.
The middle two sections make up our limbic brain, which are responsible for all of our feelings. Like trust and loyalty. The WHY-level. The limbic brain also drives all human behavior and all decision-making. And funny enough, it has no capacity for language.
Back to our example of the contract: It is difficult to put into words why it doesn’t feel right, because the part of the brain that is responsible for our decision making, has no capacity for speech.
How The Golden Circle works on a personal level
The Golden Circle is at the core of everything I do. For my challenge, my writing, and my keynotes.
Over four years ago, The Golden Circle caused me to pause and reflect.
After working at my former day job for three years, I asked myself: “Is this it? I’m 22 years old and every day, I go to at least three meetings, respond to over 150 emails, while in between I try to do my ‘real’ job. When I — hopefully — turn 80, what did I contribute? What did others notice of my hard work?” Spoiler: less than I wanted it to be…
It made me decide why I want to get out of bed every morning: To follow my curiosity, explore and learn new things. To help and inspire others. And to use my creativity to share all of this with the people I love.
Call to action: Three question to ask yourself right now
Get an empty sheet of paper and a pen. It’s time to discover your own Golden Circle. Which is simple and complicated at same time.
For now though, it’s best to not overthink it. Only three types of questions. And your answers don’t have to be perfect. Just write down whatever comes to mind.
- WHY do I get out of bed every morning? What makes me happy? How does that benefit others?
- HOW do I take action? How does an ideal day look like? From start to finish? What are five things I can do every day to get closer to where I want to be?
- WHAT are the desired results of my actions? What does progress look like?
Got your answers down? Put them away, and look at them later today or tomorrow. This way, you craft your own WHY over time. It doesn’t matter if it takes a week, a month, or —more likely— over a year, as long as it’s evolving, you intrinsically benefit from it. Because you already know: the part of the brain that’s capable of language just needs some time to put it to words..
Take your time and enjoy the process.
If you want to share your thoughts, have questions or just want to reach out. Feel free to use the comment section or send me a personal message.
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