Start with YOU, then with WHY

I cannot teach anybody anything.
I can only make them think.

~ Socrates
Greek philosopher, credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy.

I‘ve been following Simon Sinek for some time. 

His idea of “Start with Why” has been a guiding light for me during the past decade. He has created a whole movement behind this concept and inspired people ever since. His book explains why a person must have a WHY for every notable action he or she takes, as it defines that person’s attitude towards him- or herself. When the personal WHY is cultivated and centered, one can devise a WHY for a family, for a community of people, for a giant business corporation, even for a whole country. That is what matters!

In the words of Simon, the WHY is related to “your purpose“, “your cause“, “your belief“. One can go even further and ask existential questions like,

Why do you exist?” or

Why does your organization exist?” 

Powerful questions inviting some serious retrospection, right?

Hey, did you notice that there are a lot of “YOU” in the sentences above?

It is because it all starts with YOU. Whatever you do – the way you think, dream, communicate, feel, act, and be – begins with you. All your thoughts and behavior culminate in the things you conceive, like purpose, cause, beliefs, relations, businesses, etc. 

The WHY often stems from your vision about something. You could have a vision only when you know yourself and what you want (desires, dreams, passions, hopes, cravings, expectations, etc. ). 

Your vision is the destination you want to get to from where you currently are. Reaching the vision is like operating a navigation system: the destination is your vision, your target goal. And if you know where you want to go, you also need to know where you are right now, so the navigation system can map your journey properly.

Should you wish to have clarity about your voyage, you need to know the starting point, the current state. That is to know yourself as a starting point of that vision – to know YOU before your WHY.

The WHY is explained through YOU

We are social creatures – we seek others with whom we communicate and interact. However, if you can’t reveal to others why you do the things you do, nobody would be able to understand you, relate emotionally with you, do business with you, vote for you, get inspired by you, or want to be a part of what you do.

So, you must be able to explain your WHY to others. Yet, before revealing it to another human being, you must be aware of it within yourself – via a dream, a passion, or a necessity.

Let us say, if I don’t have a dream to invest in myself, I would not be able to explain WHY I want to invest in myself because I would not have enough self-awareness even to formulate an explanation. If I don’t have a clear passion for horseback riding, I would not be able to describe WHY I want to ride horses. If I don’t feel the need to have a business, how can I define WHY having it?

Being self-aware is the first step towards self-knowledge

You can start the process of self-discovery by asking yourself why you are doing the things you currently do. This enables you to realize who you are and explain your own nature.

Asking yourself WHY questions, helps you find more about yourself through the compelling way of being honest, open, vulnerable, and humble with yourself. That allows you to discover more of your inner values – find means to get rid of those that don’t serve you any longer and cultivate new ones that make you excel.

The more WHYs you ask, the more precise your reasons become. You’ll notice that every next WHY goes deeper into your heart and soul, to reveal the real truth behind the reasons you give, sometimes to the point of emotional pain. Still, playing the WHY game is not easy – it requires you to be very honest with yourself. That is the key to find the true WHY(s) in your life.

Hence, finding the WHY requires you to know yourself, i.e., going through some serious self-discovery. It demands to look inwards. It requires working inwards so that YOU can find the reasons for your WHYs. In other words, you need to start with YOU before starting with the WHY.

The WHY changes as YOU evolve

Today’s WHY will be different from the future WHY. The WHY changes in time, as a result of an inevitable evolution – personal or corporate.

Apple has changed its corporate vision and mission statements over time, to reflect changes in the company from the time of Steve Jobs to the current leadership of Tim Cook. 

After a 74-year history, on MAR 9, 2011 Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) unveiled their new “Toyota Global Vision” for the future, which would serve not only to give direction to Toyota employees around the world but also to convey such direction to customers and the public at large.

In the lifecycle of every human being, there is usually a growth involved.

During the early years of our development, self-awareness is in its infancy – revolving around the basic human needs (love, shelter, significance, certainty, and variety). So, asking a kid WHY she does what she does, produces an honest answer, suitable for her age and development. Asking the same individual, the same WHY question, 20 years later, provides a different, probably more elaborate explanation. It is because the WHY depends on our development. The WHY is a direct expression of our inner state and maturity. So the WHY can change and depends on the change in the Self.

The self-awareness grows in time, bringing more clarity to the WHY you do the things you do. And more so, in time, the WHY changes due to new inspirations or circumstances

Here is my example of circumstance change: 

Before the current crisis, my WHY about “working”, was to save money for investment.
During the crisis, I worked to have bread on the table.
My WHY changed temporarily due to the circumstances.
But not my values.

And an example of a change through inspirations: 

A few years ago, I was not aware of my purpose. My WHY about living was materialistic.
Until I met people, who – with example and care – inspired me to open myself to others.
Today, my WHY is about being of high-service to others.
My WHY changed due to inspirations.
So did my values.

Whatever you do, your WHY grows together as YOU grow.
The WHY will never be bigger than YOU or grow beyond YOU because the WHY is a reflection of the YOU.

Finding more about YOU helps to find the WHY

When I refer to the process of self-knowing, I don’t mean that one needs to be a guru on self-help or a veteran motivational speaker.

Not at all!

I merely refer to the ability to know yourself. To allow yourself to know your inner world.

Hence, everybody can do it. And if you ask me, everybody should do it

The more one knows about the Self, the more the WHYs would make sense. When there are no answers to the WHYs, that person usually drifts through life, embracing the path of less resistance – existing without response-ability, being reactive to circumstances, hoping for miracles, blaming the whole universe for his failures. 

The WHY requires inner work. Working inwards produces the faith, the belief, the desire, and all that occurs afterward.

The work that needs to be done is within YOU first.

Start with YOU and then with WHY, because you are in the making of your own future and all the reasons behind. Only YOU can decide what your WHYs would be. 

5 4 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments