Character Development: Start With Why

» Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in character development | 0 comments

Character Development: Start With Why

What is your purpose for engaging with a group of people or performing a particular activity?

Character development begins with defining why. Starting with what you are doing is the outside in approach; whereas, starting with why is the inside out approach, according to Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009).

Why is it crucial to our development to start with why?

Knowing why we are doing something helps us articulate our purpose, attracting those who align with our purpose, who will be motivated to continue being involved in the face of unpleasant circumstances and insurmountable barriers. Inspiring leadership begins with identifying the underlying reason for pursuing a particular path.

Originally uploaded by hotblack to morguefile.com.

Originally uploaded by hotblack to morguefile.com.

What are the two ways to influence human behavior? Sinek identifies the typical approach to motivation as manipulation, the proverbial “carrot and stick:”

  • price
  • promotion
  • fear
  • aspiration
  • peer pressure
  • novelty/innovation

While these will work in the short term, there is a price to be paid in loyalty because individuals are making a decision for their own reasons and not in alignment with the purpose of the organization. Inspiring people to participate begins with identifying why they should become involved. Sinek illustrates this idea with examples of leaders and organizations that became successful because of a clearly defined purpose:

  • Apple, Inc.
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Wright brothers
Historic photo of the Wright brothers' third test glider being launched at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on October 10, 1902. Wilbur Wright is at the controls, Orville Wright is at left; photo found at wikimedia.org.

Historic photo of the Wright brothers’ third test glider being launched at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on October 10, 1902. Wilbur Wright is at the controls, Orville Wright is at left; photo found at wikimedia.org.

He states,

Only when the WHY is clear and when people believe what you believe can a true loyal relationship develop. When we are selective about doing business only with those who believe in our WHY, trust emerges. With trust comes a sense of value, which is the transference of trust, earned by communicating and demonstrating shared values and beliefs.

Defining your purpose helps create the character development to inspire motivated people to believe in something bigger than themselves. Influencing people through inspiration develops loyalty for the long term, creating sustainability through trust, and an environment encouraging creativity and innovation.

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