Some time ago, I said to a friend “everything follows Why”. That remark stuck in my mind. It was a perfect title for a blog. My only problem was that it made too much sense. Why write about something that everybody does?? Then I watched a TED video by Simon Sinek and realised my assumption was very wrong. Most people think about What, then How and – perhaps – finally about Why.
Simon Sinek‘s 2009 TED speech is about how great leaders inspire action. He gives some convincing examples about thinking inward (what > how > why) and outward (why > how > what). These examples are about commercial success (outward) and failure (inward).
He also connects these 3 layers to the 3 layers of our brain: “the neocortex, our newest brain, that corresponds with the “what” level. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains, and our limbic brains are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language”. (transcript @ 5.47m)
The most interesting part of this TED speech – at least to me – is his connection to beliefs. That struck a chord as I have always believed that the best way to motivate people is explaining Why they do it. It has always been very hard to motivate myself if I don’t know why I am doing it. Suddenly I realise that most people just care about What to do and How to do it.
Perhaps the success of this blog and also its future limitation, follow the same logic. I suppose all of my blogs are about this Why question. I have no interest in writing about What and How if there is no chance on explaining the Why. I must first believe in something to energize myself.
I am tempted to connect these 3 questions What, How and Why to my concept of the 7 Belief systems and especially its next layer: Needs (what), Wants (how), and Beliefs (why). It feels right to me to connect these concepts.
Simon Sinek states: “All I did was codify it, and it’s probably the world’s simplest idea. I call it the golden circle.” (see transcript @ 1.17m). I often feel the same in my blogs, that I am just playing with the world’s simplest ideas, and that I’m just codifying them.
When I was a boy I dreamt of becoming an archeologist. As a teenager I dreamt of writing a book. I never understood why. It made no sense to me. I never pursued that dream mostly as I was unlikely to earn a living with that passion. Now, at the age of 56, I am suddenly writing about the Sumerian civilization of 4,000 BC (intro 1, intro 2, part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4).
Since some time, I fear the moment that I will stop wondering about the why question in my life. I’m afraid that I would no longer feel or have a purpose by then. The belief of a lacking purpose in life might be the tipping point for its 4th and final phase. Also see my 11 June 2016 blog. My curiosity has always been a key driver in my (business) life. I cannot imagine a day without a why.