What separates all the “Greats” of the world from everyone else? The golden circle theory explains there is one thing that Apple, Martin Luther King and so many other leaders of various fields do exclusively. If you also practice this manner in your own life it will assist in you being more satisfied and successful in this rapidly changing world. This one thing comes down to one word; WHY.
The golden circle theory was popularised by Simon Sinek in one of the most watched TED Talks and his book “Start with Why”. It can be illustrated as essentially a circle with 3 layers. The outer later is the WHAT, the middle is the HOW and the core of the circle is the WHY. The easiest way to think about this and the most common application of this theory is with regards to marketing. WHY is the core belief of a company, the reason they exist, why they are driven to do what they do. The HOW is the way the company is trying to accomplish their belief. Finally, the WHAT is what the company actually does and this is influenced by the two layers below it.
The difference between the Greats and everyone else is the WHY. The leaders start with the WHY and most others start at the opposite end at the WHAT. Simon Sinek uses the example of Apple to explain this; when marketing to their consumers Apple always starts by explaining their purpose (the WHY) and only mention what they actually do briefly at the end. An example of their ads: “”With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” This is much more appealing and relatable than if they simply jumped to the WHAT as most other companies do and say something like “We make great computers. They’re user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?” By starting with the WHY Apple captures consumers who have the same beliefs and drivers as them and as a result they have very happy customers who are truly passionate about using their products.
Starting with the WHY is not just useful if you are aspiring to have a billion dollar company. I think this theory could be a life philosophy. Most people create their goals around WHAT they want to be; a doctor, a teacher, a scientist. With the world changing at such a rapid rate these types of goals are restrictive and can be problematic. 70% of the jobs in 20 years time do not even exist yet! This means that if your goal is focused around a WHAT it will most likely have to be altered and in some cases this is very difficult and stressful, I am sure everyone has suffered from the “what am I doing with my life” moments and in most cases for university students it is because they realise that the occupation they were aiming for is no longer feasible for them. It is much more sensible and rewarding to understand your WHY, the passions and beliefs you have and want to accomplish in life, and base your goals around this. For example, you may realise innovation, or social good, or organisation, or leadership drives you and are key things you want to aspire to being involved in. Knowing your WHY and focusing on fulfilling those will allow you to discover new opportunities in this dynamic society. It will make shifting your short term objectives a lot easier and more enjoyable because you won’t feel like you have to change yourself, you will understand that it does not matter what you do as long as you are satisfying your WHY.
Focusing on this WHY will help you to navigate through life and through different experiences and occupations more comfortably and enjoyably. You will gain a unique set of transferable skills that equip you to lead in this rapidly changing world.