“If we were all rational, there would be no small businesses, there would be no exploration, there would be very little innovation and there would be no great leaders to inspire all those things. It is the undying belief in something bigger and better that drives that kind of behavior.”

Key Takeaways:
  • The Golden Circle
  • Winning Heart Over Mind

Part Two introduces The Golden Circle with the accompanying illustration to symbolize a targeted approach towards leadership. It is clear to this point the intention of understanding the value of ‘Why’ in leadership, but further reading expands on the roles of ‘How’ and ‘What’ as complementing attributes to any organization/program.

  • WHAT is easily identifiable as the description of any product or service offered by the organization.
  • HOW is the differentiation, or perceived motivating factors in the decision to affiliate, purchase, or participate.
  • WHY is the purpose, cause, or belief.

How companies prioritize to communicate these actions are left open to interpretation. This is where the author alludes to the consistent misguided approach of their value proposition by focusing outside-in leading with ‘What’ or ‘How’ as most important to stakeholders versus ‘Why.’

“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”

This line was referenced dozens of times suggesting that ‘What’ and ‘How’ are external factors that can manipulate decision-making, whereas people resonate with ‘Why’ on a deeper level.  This goes back to Part One discussing manipulative variables such as price, quality, or service that can easily be replicated by competition. Differentiation occurs from a strong connection to the mission.

Example of Apple Inc.:

  • Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.
  • The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly.
  • And we happen to make great computers.
Brand Association

“Most companies are quite adept at winning minds; all that requires is a comparison of all the features and benefits. Winning hearts, however, takes more work.”

Flipping to a more basketball-related conversation, our program is our brand. Therefore, every student-athlete (current or alum) is a brand ambassador. The best programs have the deepest connections to their brand ambassadors. Consider recruiting, player buy-in, alumni events, and even fundraising – this is our intention as coaches:

“Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.”

Sinek suggests that the sense of belonging is biological, a link of our limbic brain (emotional response) to the neocortex (analytical). And our gut reaction is our brain attempting to tell us what feels right at the moment.

There is certainly room for debate in this conversation regarding empirical evidence supporting any decision; however, as a coach my objective is to combine the sensation of a student-athlete’s gut feeling that they have made the right decision to be a part of our program based on the environment, in addition to the contributing factors that could be researched.

This leads to the final talking point about authenticity. Based on personal experiences, sometimes this business can challenge your confidence in people; it creates a struggle between cynicism and optimism. In today’s world, I find the word authenticity to be paramount.

“What authenticity means is that your Golden Circle is in balance. It means that everything you say and everything you do you actually believe.”


Some of these readings can feel a bit circular in comprehension; it almost gives off a Dr. Seuss vibe with all the ‘Who’ – ‘What’ – ‘How’ – ‘Why.’ Nonetheless, the narrative stays the same that connections and loyalty stem from transparency in mission. That transparency is illuminated by clearly communicating ‘Why’ value is added by being a part of a particular organization or program, thus inspiring action (i.e. commitment, support, or cohesiveness).

  • To develop a legacy through connection and competition
  • Understand that nothing is accomplished individually without collective support by pushing each other to be better than the day before and prepared for what comes tomorrow
  • Through all aspects surrounding the opportunity of being a student-athlete in the game of basketball

One thought on “Start With Why: Part Two

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