Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

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The idea that exceptional leaders and organizations are motivated by a distinct purpose, or their "why," is explored in the

Simon Sinek's "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" is one of the most well-known books about leadership and business.

The idea that exceptional leaders and organizations are motivated by a distinct purpose, or their "why," is explored in the book. This "why" directs the actions of great leaders and organizations and motivates others to follow them.

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle, a straightforward model that explains why certain leaders and organizations are able to communicate more effectively and engender greater loyalty than others, serves as the book's central idea. The Golden Circle is made up of three concentric circles: the outside circle represents our actions, the middle circle our methods, and the inner circle our motivations.

Most people and organizations, according to Sinek, communicate from the outside in, beginning with what they do and ending with why they do it. This is how we typically describe our goods, services, benefits, features, etc. However, because it does not play to our emotions or ideals, this strategy does not engender much trust or loyalty.

On the other hand, the most effective leaders and businesses speak from the inside out, beginning with their motivations and concluding with their actions. This is how we communicate things like our vision, mission, purpose, and principles. Because it appeals to our emotions and ideals, this strategy fosters more trust and loyalty.

Sinek illustrates this notion with examples drawn from numerous disciplines and industries. He contrasts Apple with other computer manufacturers, for example. Apple begins with why they do what it does (it challenges the current quo and thinks differently) and concludes with what it does (creates computers), in contrast to most computer businesses that start with what they do (build computers) and end with why they do it (because they want to earn money).

This explains why Apple can draw in more devoted clients and supporters who choose their products not for their features or advantages but rather for their intended usage.

Martin Luther King Jr. is another illustration, as he encouraged countless numbers of people to join the civil rights struggle. Instead of beginning with his goals—to stop racial discrimination—or his strategy—peaceful demonstrations—he began with his motivations—a fantasy of a society where people are assessed on the quality of their character, not the color of their skin.

Because of his vision rather than his plans or techniques, people chose to follow him.

The Biology of Why

Additionally, Sinek explores the scientific underpinnings of why certain messages resonate with us more than others. He claims that the limbic system and the neocortex are the two fundamental components of the human brain.

Our capacity for logic, language, analysis, and other rational thought is governed by the neocortex. The limbic system controls our emotions, feelings, intuition, trust, loyalty, and other mental processes.

We primarily appeal to the neocortex when we communicate from the outside in, beginning with what we do and concluding with why we do it. The information can be understood by the neocortex, but it cannot be used to guide decisions or actions. The limbic system is required to generate emotional motivation and drive.

The limbic system is most engaged when we speak from the inside out, beginning with why we do what we do and concluding with what we do. Although the limbic system can sense the message, it is unable to verbalize it. It requires the neocortex to offer logical defense and explanation.

As a result, to motivate others to act, we need to communicate in a way that engages both hemispheres of our brain. We should start by explaining why to appeal to their emotions and values, and then explain how and what to back up their reasoning and reason.

The Power of Why

Sinek also discusses the benefits of having a clear sense of why for ourselves and our organizations. He says that having a clear why can help us:
  • Find our passion and purpose in life
  • Attract and retain loyal customers and employees
  • Differentiate ourselves from our competitors
  • Innovate and create value
  • Overcome challenges and failures
  • Lead and inspire others

He also warns us about the dangers of losing sight of our why or having a weak or unclear why. He says that without a clear why, we can:
  • Lose our motivation and direction
  • Become vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation
  • Become complacent and stagnant
  • Fail to adapt and evolve
  • Lose our trust and credibility
  • Fail to inspire others

He also gives us some tips on how to discover or rediscover our why:
  • Look back at our past experiences and identify the ones that made us feel most fulfilled and alive
  • Ask ourselves why we do what we do, and why it matters to us and others
  • Write down our why in a simple and clear statement that captures our essence and core values
  • Test our why with others and see if it resonates with them and inspires them
  • Align our actions and decisions with our why and communicate it consistently and authentically

The influential book "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek pushes us to reevaluate how we lead and communicate. It demonstrates that individuals who start with a clear sense of purpose, or their "why," and use it to motivate others to support their cause, are the most effective leaders and organizations. 

We can communicate more effectively, foster greater loyalty and trust, and increase our worth and impact on the world by adhering to the Golden Circle's tenets.


The main concept introduced in the book is the "Golden Circle", a framework that consists of three layers: "Why", "How", and "What". The book argues that successful and influential leaders start with the "Why" - their core purpose or belief.

"Why" is defined as the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do. It's the reason your organization exists, and it's why you get out of bed in the morning.

"How" refers to the specific actions taken to realize the "Why", and "What" refers to the results of those actions - the products, services, etc. However, Sinek argues that starting with "What" is less effective than starting with "Why".

The book suggests that leaders who start with "Why" are able to inspire others and achieve greater success. This approach can also help businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Since its publication, "Start with Why" has been highly influential in the fields of leadership and business strategy. It has received positive reviews and endorsements from prominent figures, and Sinek's related TED Talk has become one of the most viewed of all time.

You can purchase this book on Amazon: