In this week’s book of the week, Start with Why, Simon Sinek maintains, “Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds.”¹ Think about major decisions your life and why you made them. Where to live, your spouse or significant person in your life, and your friends. These all most likely centered around a why rather than a how or what. The point is that if we can focus on communicating and centering our actions around our “why” we will be more congruent with who we really are.
Many times it’s not our own fault, we really do have trouble knowing why we do what we do, who we love, and so forth. It takes a little self-examination, feedback, and understanding. “It’s not that people don’t know, it’s that they have trouble explaining why they do what they do. Decision-making and the ability to explain those decisions exist in different parts of the brain. This is where “gut decisions” come from. They just feel right.”²
Part of the reason why we do have problems with naming our why is because what we call our gut decisions doesn’t come from the same part of the brain that language comes from. Our gut decisions come from our limbic system. “Our limbic brains are smart and often know the right thing to do. It is our inability to verbalize the reasons that may cause us to doubt ourselves or trust the empirical evidence when our gut tells us not to.”³
When it comes to leading others, as Simon Sinek states in his book Start with Why, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”³ So how do you plan to motivate yourself or others if you don’t even have a “Why” to begin with? When I started this journey of reading a book a week for a year (that’s 52 books!), I didn’t do it because I wanted to be smart or consume myself in isolation for a year. The reason why I started reading a book a week for a year was because I wanted to surround myself with some of the greatest leaders I could to become the best version of myself I could be. I imagined, what it would be like to have coffee with Carly Fiorina, to listen to the courage of Brene Brown, or what would I learn if I had a few hours with John C. Maxwell. I dreamed about going back in time and gleaning from the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Rosevelt, and Fredrick Douglas. I wanted to learn from U.S. Navy Seals, professors, entrepreneurs, politicians, pastors, and leaders from all walks of life. I wanted to invite them into my home and learn from them. Then I wanted to share with others the lessons and wisdom I had learned as well and invite them to get to know each mentor I had the good fortune of coming across.
That is my why.
I encourage you to find your why. To make your difference in this world for the short time we have and communicate that “why” to others.
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Vigilant Poster Girl
Every week I talk about a book that we’re reading on leadership and self-development. You can follow along by going to the Book of the Week page at the top.
- Sinek, Simon. Start with Why (p. 60). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
- Sinek, Simon. Start with Why (p. 57). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
- Sinek, Simon. Start with Why (p. 58). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.