Two Powerful and Fundamental Actions (which we have forgotten) - In Search of Our Why

Many businesses and many people who work in business often forget two fundamental actions for changing the results of their own activities.

We mainly concentrated on figures and, thus, the uncertainty in market dynamics, we are preoccupied with numbers: costs, margins, variables, profits, investments, salaries, deadlines, predictions.

But beyond this, is there still space for something else?

Even though different schools of thoughts teach us to look to ‘our own garden’ and not to be distracted by what our competitors are up to, sometimes we should cast an eye to what others are doing.

Realising that our competitors are getting better results makes us start looking for explanations. If we aren’t able to find them, what do we do? We can’t always identify the differentiated element (or elements). It might also be that we are looking at competitors’ actions from a constrictive point of view, in that our analysis is limited to the consideration of tangible, measurable aspects.

How come certain businesses are more innovative and efficient than others, though they have access to the same talents, the same companies, the same advisors and the same media?

The Golden Circle

About a dozen years ago, anthropologist and international speaker Simon Sinek discovered that there is a model incorporating two fundamental actions which unites all great inspirational leaders and all organisations in the world. This model remains unknown by the majority of businesses which aren’t successful.

Sinek calls it the Golden Circle.

He talks of a mental and practical process, based on the identification of your own why. Businesses which follow this process meditate deeply on their own why, learning how to identify and above all recognise it in what they do. Only after this do they think of the what and the how.

It seems like a simple action, but it really is not. The why of a business isn’t the result. It is the mission.

An enormous number of organisations think they know their own mission, based on what they do, on what they offer to the market. However, very often this isn’t it.

Ask yourself challenging questions

At that point, an interesting experiment would be to pose questions to people working in such organisations.

Questions like:

               “what is the reason for the existence of your organisation?”

               “Why does your business still exist after all these years?” (if it has existed a while)

               “Why do you get up in the morning to work here and not somewhere else?”

               “Why should what this business do be important to somebody else?”

It would be just as interesting to ask these questions of the manager of the business, adding the fundamental question: “Which real values do you and this business have in common?”

know your why

Thus, in order of importance, the why, the how, and the what will be determined and recognised. Those who doesn’t utilise this self-identification mechanism follow the usual direction, journeying inwards from the outside, from clearer to more confusing things.

Inspirational leaders and organisations, no matter their aim or sector, think, act, and communicate in the opposite way: from the inside outwards.

Marketing might thank you

This is often reflected in marketing strategies. Let’s imagine working for a company which produces stoves. It is easy and a bit boring to say, “We make great stoves. They are well-designed, simple to use, and highly efficient. Do you want to buy one?”

This might make you laugh, but this slogan reflects the pattern followed by most commercial businesses, given that a large part of sales and marketing is done in this way.

On a social level, even we – as individuals – behave in this way: we talk about the best bits of what we do, how we are better and different than others. From this we expect a certain action, be it a purchase, a grade, or something similar.

The gigantic problem which remains, however, is that we aren’t inspiring.

Businesses which stand out from the average, usually know their why. They remember it in everything they do, even when aiming to:

  • Start processes with a sensible level of innovation.
  • Collect a variety of opinions.
  • Challenge the status quo.
  • Question their own working methods.

From a commercial point of view – continues Sinek – it is extremely useful to remember that people aren’t buying what we are making. They are buying the reason why we are making that product or service. People buy our why, even if they often don’t realise this themselves.

fundamental actions

What if we used our brains…?

Here is one curious detail: the golden circle template is morphologically similar to our brains. If we look at a section of the human brain from outside, we would notice that it is divided into three main sections which fit perfectly with the golde ncircle.

The outsie part of our brain (the neocortex of Homo Sapiens) corresponds to the what level. It is responsible for all our rational and analytical thoughts, as well as our language. The two middle sections form our limbic system. The limbic system is responsible for feelings (like trust and loyalty). it is also responsible for human behaviour, the decision-making process and does not have the capacity for language.

In other words, when we communicate from outside inwards, people can understand a series of complicated information like characteristics, benefits, facts, and numbers. But when we are able to communicate from inside out, we are talking directly to the part of brain which controls behaviour. Thus, we enable people to rationalise the tangible things we say and do.

And it is from here that come gut decisions.

Therefore, the urgent main question is this: if we don’t know why we’re doing what we’re doing (and it is exactly this why to which people react), how can we convince people to follow us, to buy something from us, or to perceive us as honest?

Our objective isn’t to sell to people who need what we have, but to sell to people who believe in what we do. Not to hire people who need a job, but to hire people who believe in what we ourselves believe in.

You can find the second part of this article here: Two Powerful and Fundamental Actions Pt.2: Going with the Flow


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