Start With Why

“Begin with the end in mind” ~ Stephen Covey, from the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Taken at face value, and given the popularity of that book, it’s no wonder we sit atop a goal setting culture that is constantly thinking about the result or the outcome and never on where we are and what we are doing in the moment.

Is it really the place you should start though?

I’m going to say no, and propose that Mr. Covey (though I know it was intended to mean something similar) strongly consider change his wording to be more like Simon Sinek’s approach: Start with Why

Or what I sometimes call ‘Work From Purpose,’ in the essence that no matter what your aim, you should always work from an understanding of it’s purpose.

Why are you trying to lose weight?

Is it meaningful or just a line?

Losing weight is a result, not a reason why.

The Golden Circle is a term that Simon Sinek popularized.

Apparently it is in reference to the golden ratio often referred to in Math, but this simple little drawing is a proposal of how Simon feels leadership should flow.

However, I’ve seen it referred to as a few other things, namely the inside-out approach and it’s far more useful for a variety of personal development techniques than I believe even Simon was aware of, when he wrote his book back in 2009.

I’ve since gone and refocused my beginning coaching sessions to lean towards the discovery of why — find some free tools here — and have come to the conclusion that this starting point is essential for fat or weight loss.

It also helps define any other changes you may want to make in your life moving forward from social to occupational change and beyond.

So what exactly is this thing?

A fantastic model for personal (or business) development and change!

Take a minute to look it over, then think about the path that most people follow in order to obtain an objective, achieve prosperity or even find happiness.

How does it look for you? If you had an arrow somewhere on that page, where would it be, and what would it look like?

Like this???:

Inwards to Why from What - The Golden Circle

What do you think may be wrong or right with this picture?

The more I think about what I do for a living, the more I realize that people who struggle the most, ALWAYS first come to me asking, ‘what should I be doing?’

They rarely think about why they should be doing it, or even how they should do it, the focus lies squarely on the ‘what’ should I do if I want to accomplish X?

Yet, my most successful clients are the generally the most inquisitive…

Why am I doing this?

Why should I do that exercise instead of this one?

Why should I eat more of that or less of that?

How am I going to do that?

Why would an arrow pointing in this direction, be detrimental to your development, or your level of fitness?

That’s why…pun intended…

What if it looked like this?

From Why Out - The Golden Circle

This is why it is also known as: ‘The Inside Out’ Concept, Model, Theory or Approach.

How much easier would it be to achieve prosperity, an optimal state of fitness, great health or well-being, and overall success in your mind if you aimed to follow the second model?

It’s a very simple idea, yet very powerful. It completely changed how I approached coaching individuals.

I may have once, spent way too much time painting the outside circles with dots of ‘outcome based goals,’ ‘rewards,’ and other ‘external motivators.’

These are ‘What Factors’ and they’re not terribly motivating overall, mostly just something to do, some place to rest your focus. 

The problem with that approach is that the golden circle ends up looking like a target scattered with bullet holes from a terrible shot, rather than a single shot at the bull’s eye.

You don’t have any alignment, there is nothing tying everything together.

When you do it backwards, you encourage shortcuts in your development.

There is always a cost of doing business and shortcuts come with a high cost! Click to Tweet

Sure you might get lucky eventually hit the bulls-eye once, but it’s only a matter of time before your next shot hits a ring outside.

You know that embarrassing dart throw that hits absolutely nothing?

The more holes in the circle, the more room you leave for a lot of stuff to fall through the cracks.

Important details you over-looked by ignoring the process of development.

You build a house on top of mud, praying it doesn’t sink or collapse…

Don’t you want to be a more consistent shot than that?

When you focus on the bulls-eye and work your way out, magic happens.

It’s far easier to walk up to the bulls-eye and paint an arrow from the inside-out, than it is to take shots at it with a blind-fold on.

Identify why first, in any pursuit.

Remember not to confuse why with a result either.

A goal is result. Purpose is what leads to the result.

Once you identify why you want to do something, then you need to plan how to do it (by creating your values system), you will have a better understanding of how you can attempt to fulfill your purpose.

I recommend you write it down in that order and even keep it largely to yourself.

I believe that the process or journey is the real reward, so I believe that building/living for today, to set up for tomorrow, is an essential way to live.

Why do you want to get fit and/or eat better?

Could be anything, and I can’t tell you, your why.

You can find some more information on this concept in Simon’s Book or watch his fantastic 18 minute TED Talk for free.


Also published on Medium.