Simon Sinek wrote a great book called Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. If you have not read it then check out this video.
In the book, Simon points out that companies who focus on their “why” tend to be more successful than companies who focus on their “what.” He gives some great examples ranging from the way Apple markets their products to the success that the Wright brothers had.
Although the book focuses on business, it has tremendous value if you apply it to your personal life. After all, running your life is kind of like running a company.
I am going to show you how to apply the principles of the book to your life in order find meaning in what you do.
The Golden Circle
The main principle on which this theory pivots is called “The Golden Circle.”
As you will see, the Golden Circle has 3 layers: Why, How, and What.
Why – Core Belief
Human beings are emotional. Most of us want to have meaning and purpose, something to strive for, something bigger than ourselves.
The “why” in our lives can often be daunting. Why are we here? Why do we exist?
But for this exercise, we will be focusing on more bite-sized kind of “whys.” The types that don’t need a philosophy degree.
Instead of trying to solve the reason for your existence, we will turn our gaze to your reason for moving, eating, and living.
Your why is important because it is your motivation.
- It will inspire you to keep going when times are hard.
- It will force you to dig deep when you feel like quitting.
- It will focus you on your purpose when you cannot remember why you are doing what you are doing.
If your motivation to do something comes from an external source, it is bound to fail.
As soon as the source leaves, so does your motivation. On top of that, it is unsustainable because you will quit as soon as you hit the first obstacle. Believe me, there are many obstacles.
What makes this method so powerful is that you will really understand the core of why you do what you do.
It is easy to fall into the trap of doing things because you are told to do them, or because others do them.
Take two guys training in the gym. They are both lifting weights, making loud noises, and trying to improve an aspect of their lives. Depending on their why, though, you might see them do vastly different exercises. One might be trying to lose weight, while the other one is training for a sport.
When you dig deeper, you will find that their whys even extend to their eating habits, sleeping patterns, supplementation, and perseverance.
A few months from now, when you walk in to that same gym, you might only see one of our hard training men there. Why? Because his why was tied to belief, and the other’s was not.
Discovering your why, your true core belief, is a very personal journey. It is tied to your education, religion, upbringing, beliefs, and mental models.
It is incredible how human beings can persevere and excel when activity is tied to purpose.
How & What
How will you go about achieving your core belief?
The easiest way to explain these principles is through a simple metaphor.
Imagine you have somewhere you need to be. A destination of your choosing. A goal. In order to get there you need:
- A map: Your why is the map. It determines which roads you take. It filters all the potential roads to your destination and chooses the ones that are most in line with your beliefs.
- A mode of transportation: Your how is the car. The mode of transportation. For some it might be a bike, or car, or bus. Companies in the same niche, usually have the same how. For example, Apple and Samsung both sell electronics. Their how is the same. But their why and what differs.
Your what then, is the engine, nuts, and bolts of the car. It is what sets you apart. The details of how you will execute your why. In business, we call this your value proposition. Apple and Samsung might both sell electronics, but they sell different models with different specs.
For our purposes, our how will be the same. We will achieve our goals and reach our destinations through structured and disciplined eating and training.
So with how as a constant, we can turn our focus to WHY and WHAT.
There are different whys that could be applicable through your lifetime, but there will always be a bigger underlying why that governs the smaller ones.
If you are a vegan, you firmly believe that animals should not be harmed. This will form the basis of the way you eat and live your life: the biggest why in your life.
But at certain times in your life, your small whys will alter. You might want to build muscle, so you increase the amount of protein you consume. Governed by your big why, you still refrain from animal products, but guided by your small why, you change the way you have been eating for the past couple of years.
The difference between the two is core belief.
So while one core belief extends to many areas of your life, I want us to break it down for the sake of simplicity. Like I mentioned earlier, I do not want you to have a major in philosophy by the time you are done reading this article. I want you to have a roadmap to improve certain aspects of your life.
More than that, I want you to understand the deeper reasons behind the things you do so that they become sustainable.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit – Aristotle.
The Celery Test
Imagine you are at a party—mingling. Throughout the night, you speak to different people about the foods they are eating. Some tell you how much they love Oreos, others enjoy celery, the people in the corner thinks M&M’s are the best, and still others think rice milk is amazing.
You rush out to the shops and buy all of the above based on recommendations of your friends. But looking from the outside, nobody would be able to tell what you stand for.
If, however, you had a clearly defined WHY that you believe that your body should be fed clean, healthy foods, then you would have filtered that list through your WHY and ended up in the queue with only the celery and rice milk.
It would have been clear to everyone that you pay attention to your health, that your belief probably carries through to other aspects of your life, as well.
Applying the golden circle to diet and training
Since we have different beliefs and reasons for doing things, I will try and give inclusive (and contrasting) examples and a “formula” so you can apply this to your personal life.
It is all about making the right statements.
- Why: I believe ________________________.
- How: I will achieve _____________ through ________________.
- What: What are the specifics of __________________.
- Why: I believe that in order to live a long and healthy life, I should pay attention to my wellbeing.
- How: Through a structured training focused on flexibility, muscle maintenance, and joint health.
- What: General strength training focused on beginner’s movements.
- Why: I believe that you should be as strong as your body allows without injuring yourself because life should be lived to the fullest.
- How: Through a structured training program that focuses on small but incremental strength gains.
- What: A 5×5 training program.
- Why: I believe that you are what you eat. I value my health and want to feed my body clean foods.
- How: Following a structured diet that is sustainable and healthy.
- What: Create a healthy eating plan.
- Why: I believe that I would be more confident as a person if I could lose weight, because how a person feels inside is reflected by how they look on the outside.
- How: Following a specific diet geared towards fat loss until my goal is achieved, and then switching to a healthy, sustainable diet.
- What: Get shredded in 28 days.
Break it down for me
This might all seem a bit daunting.
But if you can take away one thing from this article. Let it be this.
There is a why behind every action in your life. Whether you are aware of it or not, it is lurking in the background. It is the key to your success.
Without mindfulness and introspection, you might be blissfully unaware of this powerful driving force in your life.
Take time. Really figure out your whys. Then live your life while keeping your why in front of you all the time.
Originally posted on BetterMan.