The Intriguing Question
Simon Sinek, in his viral talk about the Golden Circle, posits a fundamental question: how do some leaders and organizations manage to inspire action and achieve extraordinary outcomes, while others, with seemingly similar resources, fail to do so?
The Golden Circle: The Core Idea
Sinek reveals a simple yet powerful concept, the Golden Circle, which encapsulates three essential components:
- Why – The purpose, belief, or cause that drives an organization or individual.
- How – The unique approach, methodology, or differentiated value proposition employed.
- What – The tangible products or services offered by an organization or individual.
The Biological Connection
Sinek highlights that this principle is rooted in biology, not psychology. He explains that the human brain is divided into three major components that correspond with the Golden Circle:
- Neocortex – Responsible for rational thought, analytical thinking, and language.
- Limbic Brain – Governs emotions, trust, loyalty, decision-making, and behavior, but lacks language capacity.
The Pattern of Success
According to Sinek, great leaders and organizations think, act, and communicate in the same manner:
- Start with Why – They begin by clarifying their purpose, cause, or belief.
- Proceed to How – They identify their unique approach or methodology.
- Finish with What – They specify the tangible products or services they offer.
In contrast, average leaders and organizations communicate from the outside in, starting with the “what” and ending with the “why,” which fails to inspire action.
Sinek illustrates his point with several examples, such as:
- Apple Inc. – They challenge the status quo and think differently, resulting in beautifully designed, simple, and user-friendly products.
- Wright Brothers – Driven by a belief that powered man flight could change the world, they succeeded in their quest despite limited resources and education.
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Fueled by a belief in justice and equality, he inspired 250,000 people to attend his iconic speech and catalyzed the Civil Rights Movement.
The Bottom Line
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. Inspirational leaders and organizations start with their “why” and use it to drive their actions and communication. By doing so, they tap into the emotional and decision-making centers of the human brain, fostering loyalty, trust, and action.