“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek has a lot of wisdom. He’s a brilliant entrepreneur I have no doubt. I’ve watched his videos and read enough about him to know this. I have great respect for him.
But don’t let “Start With Why” and “Find Your Why” be your end all be all.
If you don’t know your “why”, that’s ok.
You’ll be ok.
You will live to fight another day.
Sure some people will buy why you do what you do. Some might only consider it. Some may not buy it at all. But if you get too self-conscious about why you’re doing it, you’ve lost.
Humanity rarely works that way. We don’t always walk around saying here’s what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Our subconscious runs the show. We may know our why and we may not. We may find it. We may not. There is no guarantee that if we say “This is why I’m doing and people will buy it.” that everyone will buy it.
Sinek is right about the “Why”. But the why comes through living in the moment. It’s not formulaic. That’s not a thing.
We try and fail and try and fail and through the failure the chips line up. Keep failing. Your why is most likely to appear through trial and error…and Here’s a Secret:
Many people don’t know their why until long after they’ve found it.
It looks cute for entrepreneurs and success stories to say:
“I knew it all along! People would love Cheetos! I went after it and did it. And people love Cheetos! What’s your why? That’s what they’ll buy.”
Rarely does it work that way.
Do we think Steve Jobs in the early 1980’s knew he was going to invent an iPhone?
He lived in the moment. In hindsight we see that he plunged forward in his belief in combining creativity with technology and passion for creating a user-friendly computer interface. He’s said so himself.
Was that Steve Jobs’ why?
It seems probable. But here’s the critical question. Did Steve Jobs know this in the moment?
Were people back then saying “Here’s the guy that’s changing computers. Get ready for a big revolution.”
I doubt it. Perhaps a bit afterwards they were.
But a confident “Why” in the moment as it’s happening that reveals a profound result for the why is incredibly rare. We just think it does because we see it in hindsight.
And also… the flipside of this is just because you are passionate about something in a current moment does not mean that it’s your why.
Hindsight is 20/20. The mysterious uncertainty of the moment is where the real magic happens.
Being uncertain, is OK.
How many men when they see a woman at a bar and want to get her number are saying in the moment “This is the woman I will marry.”
I doubt very many. They’re just living in the moment.
The why often shows up in hindsight, not in foresight.
Does anyone really know their why?
Well, many apparently think they do.
Also, in an increasingly challenging world, there’s a solid chance that finding your why simply isn’t enough.
Let me explain.
“Find Your Why” for me goes right along the lines of another popular myth in those that say “Be Yourself”.
Let’s say you discover that your “Why” is selling shower curtain rings because you’re passionate about home improvement for very personal reasons.
And you think that’s your “Why”. You may love it and flourish but you also may be a bit let down.
There are no guarantees. Your “Why” is not absolute.
You are a healthy, living, breathing, human being who may have an infinite amount of “Whys”. To think that you only have one reason and you must find it, is putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.
You may find your why, you may never find your why, you may think you’ve found your why, and you may think you didn’t find your why.
We are training a society into thinking that once they’ve found their why, that they should rejoice because life is all good, happy, and in sync.
But it’s not. Because then that party ends. The train leaves the station and the “Why” starts to turn into the “What now?”
Life is not black and white. It’s full of colors. Enjoy the moment.
Columnist Ken Krogue for Forbes writes in “Simon Sinek says ‘Start With Why,’ But Sales Experts Disagree” :
Great salespeople always start with Who.
Then they move to Why, What, and How. And then eventually to When, and How Much.
They know that far more important than what you say is getting to the right person to say it.
If you don’t get to the person with authority (with proper decision-making power in the sales process) all the Why, Who, and What won’t make enough difference to close a sale. This is especially true in the business-to-business (B2B) world.
Krogue believes in first finding your “Who”.
I’m over here just living.
I would encourage you to go out into the world and live, love, dream, meet people, rent a scooter, drive to the beach, eat some tacos, watch a football game, kiss the sky, work hard, write, hug your parents, hike to the top of that mountain, apply for some jobs, cook your favorite meal, travel to your favorite destination you’ve always wanted to, play tennis, eat ice-cream, run in a marathon, take a sailing lesson, buy some neat artwork….
We don’t have all the answers. Finding your why comes through living. The more you live, the more you realize your why is part of a greater wonderful whole. Don’t think your life is some formula that you have to plug answers into.
In the words of the great Matthew McConaughey:
Just Keep Livin
Finally, all of this reminds me of an old song from 1999 (nearly 20 years ago), the lyrics of which everyone should read, as it still applies now in 2018.
Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen”:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99: Wear Sunscreen If I could offer you only one tip for the future, Sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now…
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked…
You are not as fat as you imagine
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing everyday that scares you
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…
The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself
Remember the compliments you receive
Forget the insults
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters
Throw away your old bank statements
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t
Get plenty of calcium
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40,
Maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding
What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…
Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own
Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them
Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get
the more you need the people you knew when you were young
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft
Accept certain inalienable truths
Prices will rise
Politicians will philander
You too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young
prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders
Respect your elders
Don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund
Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you never know when either one might run out
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the sunscreen
Just keep livin.
See you soon.
By Geoff Pilkington
You can connect with me at: www.geoffreypilkington.com
Originally published at medium.com