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Book Summary – Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

Find Your Why - Book summary

All of us have an inner purpose. When we’re on purpose, we thrive and feel a deep sense of fulfilment. In his previous book, Simon Sinek makes a case to “Start with Why”. In this book, he partners with David Mead and Peter Docker to provide a step-by-step handbook to help any individual, team or organization to find your why. In this free Find your WHY summary, we’ll briefly recap the Golden Circle, and outline the main steps involved in discovering and living your WHY.

Find your Why: an Overview

The book starts with a brief recap of Sinek’s previous book, Start with Why.

The Golden Circle: Start with Why

Every person and organization operates on 3 levels: what, how and why.

  • Your WHY is your purpose, cause or fundamental belief. It’s the driving force behind all that you do.
  • Your HOWs are the actions you take when you’re at your best, to bring your WHY to life.
  • Your WHATs are the jobs you perform or the products/services you deliver. They’re the concrete manifestation of your WHY.

The Golden Circle is deeply rooted in our human nature or biology and reflects how our brain works.

  • The limbic system is the primal part of our brain that drives our instinctive behavior, including feelings like trust and loyalty. This corresponds with the WHY and HOW of the Golden Circle.
  • The neocortex is the logical center of our brain that handles language and rational thinking (including facts, figures and analysis). It corresponds with the WHAT of the Golden Circle.
  • We need all 3 levels to appeal to both logic and emotions. WHY and HOW appeal to people’s gut-feeling at a deep level, whereas WHAT appeals to logic by presenting tangible features/benefits using words.
    Find your Why summary - the Golden Circle

Most of us can articulate what we do and how we do it, but not why. We tend to think, act and communicate from the outside-in (WHAT-HOW-WHY). Yet, the most influential people do the reverse: they think, act and communicate from the inside-out (WHY-HOW-WHAT).

We’ll now dive into the main points of our Find Your WHY summary.

How to Find your Why (and Live it)

Find your WHY is a step-by-step guidebook that dives into how exactly to go about discovering your WHY at individual and group/organizational levels.

In a nutshell, the authors break down the detailed process on how Discover your WHY, State your HOWs, and Make a Stand:
Find your Why summary - How to discover and live your why

DISCOVER OR FIND YOUR WHY: Overview of the steps

Broadly, the process involves 3 key steps:

  • Gather and share stories. Each of us has only 1 WHY. It’s not an aspiration, but a description of who we are when we’re at our natural best. Such clues can be found in your past, so the first step is to sieve through your memories and experiences. You’re looking for momentous events that evoke a strong emotional response and made a real difference in your life/organization, and there are specific techniques you can use to systematically extract those stories.
  • Identify themes. As you filter out the stories and share them, themes will start to surface. In particular, a couple will stand out and resonate deeply with you to provide the foundation for your WHY Statement.
  • Draft and refine your WHY Statement. This should be clear, simple, impact-oriented, actionable, affirmative and expressed using words that resonate with you. The authors recommend this structure for your 1-sentence WHY Statement: “To ____ so that _____”. The 1st blank describes your contribution and the 2nd blank describes your impact. This statement captures the driving force behind everything you do. It is (i) relevant to both your personal and professional life, (ii) unchanging over time, and (iii) involves being part of something bigger than yourself. For example, Simon Sinek’s WHY is “to inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, we can change our world”.

The book is written as a DIY guide, with the entire process broken down into steps for individuals vs tribes/organizations. Both sets of processes involve Preparation => Share Stories => Identify Themes => Draft your WHY Statement.  Individuals will need a partner for a 1-1 discovery session, while groups/tribes need a facilitator to run a Tribe WHY Discovery Workshop.  Do get our full Find your WHY summary for a breakdown of the steps and tips, including exactly how to find your partner/facilitators, what they must do, how to gather your stories, filter out the themes and draft your statements.

State your HOWs and Make a Stand

To bring your WHY to life, you’ll need to know your HOWs, which are your strengths or the ingredients required for you to be at your best. For example, Docker’s WHY is “to enable people to be extraordinary so that they can do extraordinary things”. His HOWs include: make it simple, see the wider context, embrace new ideas, build relationships, and push the boundaries.

In our complete Find your Why summary, we’ll elaborate on:

  • The process for articulating your HOWs (which is the same for individuals and tribes); and
  • How to start sharing your WHY, living it and keeping the WHY alive. For tribes, there’s an extra step required to share the tribe’s draft WHY statement with other members who weren’t part of the discovery process, and get engagement/ownership to spread the ideas and apply them.

Getting the Most from Find your Why

In this article, we’ve briefly outlined some of the key insights and strategies you can use to achieve desired change. For more examples, details, and actionable tips to apply these strategies, do get our complete book summary bundle which includes an infographic, 15-page text summary, and a 25-minute audio summary.

Find Your Why summary - book summary bundle

This book is written as a DIY guide, with specific tips and examples of what to say and do at every step of the process, and even instructions on how to set up the rooms for your workshops. There’re also 3 appendices with FAQs, partner and facilitator tips.  You can purchase the book here for the full details, or get more resources (including free slides and videos) from the official website.

Read more about the Golden Circle in our Start with WHY summary.

About the Authors of Find your Why

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team is written by Simon Sinek, David Mead, Peter Docker.

Simon O. Sinek is an American author, speaker, and consultant who writes on leadership and management. Sinek was born in the United Kingdom and lived in several countries before settling in the United States. He received a BA in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University. Sinek is also an instructor of strategic communications at Columbia University, an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation, and the founder of Optimism Press.

David Mead began as a corporate trainer. Since joining the Start With Why team in 2009, he has working with organizations in various industries as a speaker and facilitator. He also co-hosts the Start With Why podcast.

Peter Docker is a former senior Royal Air Force officer and professional pilot. He joined the Start With Why team in 2011, and has since worked with organizations around the world as a leadership consultant and executive coach.

Find your Why Quotes

“Every one of us has a WHY, a deep-seated purpose, cause or belief that is the source of our passion and inspiration.”

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

“Before we can stand out, we must first get clear on what we stand for.”

“The ability of a group of people to do remarkable things hinges on how well those people can pull together as a team.”

“You’re unique, not in your WHY alone but in the combination of your WHY and your HOWs. This combination makes you one-of-a-kind.”

Click here to download the Find your Why summary & infographic

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