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This is another book summary from my friends at Coaching On Call

Start with Why – by Simon Sinek
All organisations and the individuals who work there function on three levels: What you do, How you do it and Why you do it. Everybody knows What they do. Many know How they do what they do – this may be their USP or value proposition. But, Sinek says, very few can articulate WHY they do what they do, or indeed even realise that ‘why’ exists.
Sinek argues that the superficial answer to ‘why’ – money – is not really a WHY: money is a result. By WHY, he means why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care?

What’s different about how inspiring leaders and organisations communicate?
Sinek argues that there’s a naturally occurring pattern shared by the people and organizations that achieve the greatest consistent success – they all think and act and communicate in the same way; and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does.
Great leaders inspire people to take action. Those who inspire are not driven by WHAT they do or HOW they do it; they are driven by WHY they do it. They communicate from the inside out, starting with why (then how and what), rather than from the outside in, starting with what (then how), as most people and organisations do.

Great leaders inspire people to action
Great leaders never try to rationalise why you should or shouldn’t do something. They don’t start by telling you what to do. Great leaders all start with Why. They tell you what they believe, their purpose or their cause and then invite you to join them. We follow leaders and buy from companies that inspire us, not because we have to or because we are manipulated to do so, but because we choose to.

We follow those who inspire us— not for them, but for ourselves. And what great leaders do to inspire us is tell us why they do what they do— they always start with Why.


So how can you bring your Why to life?
Sinek identifies some key practical ways in which anybody can learn to start with Why:
  • Understand that there is a biological reason for the Why being so powerful -committed decision-making and inspiration to action is governed by the limbic brain, which controls emotion. In contrast, our response to the What is a function of the neo-cortex, or rational brain which is less potent in motivating us to action
  • Articulate your Why in terms of verbs rather than nouns – for example, when articulating values, instead of ‘integrity’ say ‘always doing the right thing’; instead of ‘innovation’ say ‘looking at the problem from a different angle’. As Sinek says, it’s hard to hold people accountable to abstract nouns!
  • Start with Why, but then be clear about the How and the What – no matter how visionary or brilliant, a great idea or product isn’t worth anything if nobody buys it. Inspire others to action by telling them why you do what you do, then align the Why with the How and the What, because, as Thomas Edison said, ‘Vision without execution is hallucination.’

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more or become more, then you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams

My friends at Coaching on Call email out regular book summaries. They don’t have their own blog yet, so I thought I’d post a few on here.

Linchpin – Are You Indispensible? by Seth Godin
In this book Godin argues that now it’s more important than ever to become indispensible – to become a linchpin in your organisation. Linchpins are the essential building blocks that make an organisation successful. They are the ones who create the real difference, lead change and generally make things happen.
And it’s not about your job title – linchpins can show up anywhere within an organisation.

Linchpin versus cog
Godin’s premise is that today’s organisational structure is a throwback to the days of factories, with interchangeable parts and interchangeable workers. In this model, if you just do what you’re told then you’re effectively just another cog, indistinguishable from others. What Godin encourages you to ‘become indispensible’ instead, not through what you do so much as through the difference you make.
But how?

Elements of being a linchpin
  1. Make a choice – wake up and stop being a sheep!
  2. Do your work as a gift – not to please your boss but because it makes you happier. Godin calls this ‘art’, which in this context is an act of personal courage, something that one human does that creates change in another.
  3. You need to overcome the resistance of your reptilian brain – the part of you that wants to stay safe by conforming and avoiding anything that might make you stand out. The paradox is that the more you hide, the riskier it actually is.
  4. Complete tasks – a real linchpin doesn’t just have ideas or start projects, they also see them right through to the end and deliver on the details.
Wisdom and passion
Godin identifies two axes that show where the realm of the linchpin lies. The X axis goes from passive to passionate. The Y axis goes from attachment (being inflexibly dedicated to your own world view) to discernment or wisdom. The linchpin inhabits the top right segment of this model – where high passion is matched with high levels of wisdom.

Emotional labour

Seth Godin

Godin powerfully argues that the future of an organisation depends on motivated human beings selflessly contributing unasked-for gifts of emotional labour. By this he means doing the difficult work of bringing your best self to any interaction, even when it would be much easier just to avoid or placate or dissemble. Having the courage to decide to show up and make a difference is a massive differentiator between those who are cogs and those who are linchpins in any organisation.

“We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.
Stevie Wonder

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