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Finding Your “Why”

January 23, 2018 in

How do you explain when things don’t go according to plan? Better yet, how do you explain when others are so successful despite obstacles? A key example is Samsung. Every year they have a new innovation, idea, concept, that exceeds the competition and revolutionizes the market for the electronic industry. For example, from the inception of smartphones, Apple dominated the market with their iPhone. There needed to be the next big thing in cell phones to elevate Samsung to the next level. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus was the first phone to incorporate facial recognition software as a security measure; as such, they revolutionized the market in making access to phones more secure. With Apple dominating the cell phone market at the time, Samsung phones were among the first to utilize Google Maps and upgrade their hardware and cameras to higher levels to claim more market share. How can this be when every company in the industry has the same access to the same talent, consultants, and media, etc.? There must be something else going on, right? Well, as it turns out there is and we’re going to look at it in greater detail.

Looking at leaders who have been able to overcome significant obstacles and failures, Simon Sinek, discovered the key to their success. He stated, “Every great inspiring leaders and organizations in the world all think, act, and communicate in the same manner. Arguably, it’s the complete opposite to the rest of the world. It’s called the golden circle (Sinek 2013, pg. 95).” The Golden Circle is (below) is how great leaders are able to inspire and others aren’t.

Sinek argued that companies are very clear on “what” they do (e.g. we build electronics) and on “how” they do it (e.g. we have streamlined systems and processes). However, many people and organizations only go that far, they struggle when asked “why” they do what they do. Understanding your why is perhaps the most important element because of its impact on motivation and action and a clear “why” separates you from the rest. Sinek (2013) offers some guidance to help people and organizations uncover their why:

“What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.”

Therefore, the process of improvement begins with uncovering your “why.” As we have seen by Sinek’s golden circle, it starts from the inside out; meaning, if organizations want to be successful, their “why” has to be clear to every individual because they believe in the message and want to be a part of something bigger. It’s about clarity and control. If I am uncertain or waver on my “why” there can be no clear direction or path on how to sustain success. If you do not know why you do what you do, how will anyone else? As such, it becomes of critical importance to know and find your “why.”

What’s your “why?” Why does your organization exist? Why are you a part of your organization? What’s the purpose? A “why” is merely a belief. It’s the initial raindrop in a lake that expands into other areas. Taking the initial “why” and putting into context is the “how.” How are you going to bring those values and principles which guide the process to bringing your cause to fruition? “How” you do things affect not only the day-to-day life of the organization, but it also affects the underlying culture, systems, and processes (Sinek 2013). By knowing the “how” employees can then be held accountable to the same guiding principles and may lead to enhancing an organization’s natural strengths (Sinek 2013).

At HigherEchelon, we believe that a resilient and adaptable mindset is common amongst all high performing leaders and that organizational performance is more than just strong sales numbers. Organizational performance depends on a healthy culture that is aligned with strategy. Our “why” influences “how” we do trainings, executive coaching, and other facets of the human capital division by virtue of focusing on things we can control to enhance our performance. As a result, our “what” is leaders and team members that are more self-aware, mental agile, and resilient. It boils down this key notion, if your “why” is big enough, “how” becomes a lot easier which influences “what” you do. It all starts and ends with “why.” Find your “why.” Know your purpose. Know your beliefs. Know your cause.

If you’d like help on discovering your “why” and better understanding your motivations, feel free to reach out to HigherEchelon for more specific ideas.


  • Sinek, S. (2013). Start with why: how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. London: Portfolio/Penguin.