How do you explain when some people achieve things that seem to defy all the assumptions?
Apple has once again reported record revenue and profit. How is this possible when so many other computer and electronics companies are struggling amid global competition?
How is it that Martin Luther King Jr successfully led the civil rights movement? There were lots of other people talking about civil rights for decades before he came along.
How did the Wright Brothers become the first people to achieve powered flight when there were other better educated, better funded groups pursuing the same goal?
Start with Why
All the great and inspiring leaders and organizations in the world all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way and it’s the complete opposite of everyone else.
Almost every organization starts by telling you what they do – the feature of their product or service. Some then explain how they do it – their differentiating value proposition. Very few communicate (or even know) why they do what they do – their purpose or cause.
But as Simon Sinek explains in his book, “Start with Why,” inspired leaders and organizations do just the opposite. They start with why, explain how and then communicate what.
This may seem like a trivial distinction or just a matter of process, but the difference is monumental. I’ll explain why in just a moment, but consider this example from Sinek:
If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. What to buy one?” That’s how most of us communicate. But it’s uninspiring.
Here’s how Apple actually communicates, “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. What to buy one?”
This reveals a critical insight:
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. -Simon Sinek
In reality, people often do buy what an organization does. Shop for a car and you’ll probably buy the one that gives you the features you want at the best price. Same goes for a camera, a restaurant or a contractor to put a new roof on your house.
It’s also true for churches. What’s the preaching like? What style is their worship? When are the services? How strong is the children’s and youth ministries? (And schools too.)
People buy the what in the absence of a compelling why.
The problem is when people buy your “what,” it’s purely a transactional relationship. If someone buys your product, joins your church or sends their child to your school because of its features, as soon as something newer with more features or more convenience comes along, they’ll jump ship.
But when people join you because of your “why” – your cause – there’s a deeper connection that goes beyond price and features.
- People pay more to eat at Chic-Fil-A because their commitment to family values resonates with them.
- People pay more for TOMS Shoes because TOMS exists to put shoes on the feet of poor kids and gives away a pair of shoes for each pair it sells.
- People will walk 60 miles over 3 days because they believe in what the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s cause to fight breast cancer.
- People will do without sports programs or fancy smart boards when they believe in a school’s vision of partnering with parents to give children a quality education.
- People will sacrifice, serve and give to a church that doesn’t have gifted orator of a pastor or a rockstar worship leader when they believe in that church’s mission.
- And we believe people will build their Christian and church websites with OurChurch.Com because its our mission is to help our brothers and sisters in Christ live out their mission online.
Let’s be honest, we live in a messed up, broken world. People are facing huge challenges – financial challenges, relationship challenges, education challenges, health challenges.
But perhaps the biggest problem in our world today is apathy.
So. many people today are sleep-walking through life. Punching a clock at work. Going through the motions at school. Just trying to get through the day so they can veg out in from of the TV, go to a movie, watch a game, or pursue some other form of entertainment.
I believe God gives every person a purpose – God has given YOU a purpose. There are things you are passionate about and gifted to do that no one else can do.
The World Needs You on Mission
The world needs you on mission because when you are passionate about your mission – when you start with why – you inspire people to get up off the couch and live for something bigger than themselves. And when they do that, they will help you bring about your mission.
Are you starting with why?
- What is your mission? Post it in a comment. We want everyone to know what it is.
- Do you “start with why” on your website? Take a look at your homepage. Is your mission front and center or are you starting with “what” like most organizations?