“All great and inspiring leaders...think, act, and communicate the same way...they start with why.” That phrase is the focus of one of the most watched Ted Talks of all time titled "How Great Leaders Inspire Action” by Simon Sinek. It later became the focus of his best-selling book, Start With Why.

Simon Sinek wanted to understand why some leaders and companies “are able to defy the odds and succeed so much more than others.” Sinek explains his discovery as one that “profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world worked.” “As it turns out," he goes on to say, "all the great and 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’s the complete opposite of everyone else. All I did was codify it, and it’s probably the world’s simplest idea. I call it the Golden Circle.

Simon Points Out The Difference

Most people think, act, and communicate from the outside in: What → How → Why

Example: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?”.... “Meh.”

Inspired leaders and organizations all think, act, and communicate from the inside out: Why → How → What?

Example: “Everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo; we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” Totally different right?

Simon Says It’s Biology Not Psychology

“Here’s the best part: None of what I’m telling you is my opinion. It’s all grounded in the tenets of biology.” Simon explains that our brains are made this way.”When we can communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from.. Because the part of the brain that controls decision-making doesn’t control language. And the best we can muster up is, ‘I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right’...Or sometimes you say you’re leading with your heart, or you’re leading with your soul. Well, I hate to break it to you, those aren’t other body parts controlling your behavior. It’s all happening here in your limbic brain, the part of the brain that controls decision-making and not language.”

But — What If Asking Why Leads To "Who?"

Simon is exactly right; it is biology instead of psychology that leads to decision making. But, is that really the end of it? Doesn’t that lead to a more important question? If our most important decisions are based on biology, then “Who made us?" and “Why were we made?" become the most important questions.

God's Answer to Why Given Through Isaiah:

… Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. ” Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, “It is true.” “You are my witnesses, ” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.I have revealed and saved and proclaimed – I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, ” declares the Lord, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”  (Isaiah 43:6-13)

v7 "...everyone who is called by my name, whom I created.”

God’s word is clear here and throughout the Bible (Genesis 1:26-27, Deuteronomy 32:6, Job 12:10, Psalms 139:13-14, Acts 17:28). You are not an accident. You were made on purpose.

v7 "I created [you] for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

God created us for His glory. We should respond with our lives by doing everything for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

v10 "You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.” This is our why. God gives us great purpose – to testify to the fact that He is our creator and sustainer. We live our purpose, give our lives back to Him, and love others so they will know we are His witnesses by our love (John 13:34-35).

Our True Why Gives Us Peace And Freedom

No one can live in peace without knowing their true source of life – not even Simon Sinek. When we know God made us and loves us (Isaiah 42:10 and 1 John 4:10) and that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39), we are at peace to live out our purpose. This peace allows us to spend our lives loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind...and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-38).

God gives us the freedom to live out our purpose in so many different professions and roles using the unique gifts He gives us (1 Peter 4:10). When we understand that our why is given to us by God, we can confidently communicate and inspire others in all we do from the inside out. And, most importantly, when we live out our why we get to know our Who – the God who made us.

“All great and inspiring leaders...think, act, and communicate the same way...they start with why.” That phrase is the focus of one of the most watched Ted Talks of all time titled "How Great Leaders Inspire Action” by Simon Sinek.
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