So how to start a blog for like-minded people? I’m looking to the safety of books for this. Much of the content I produce is inspired by the words of others, so to get up and running I’m using one of the lessons I’ve taken so far from Simon Sinek’s book about defining your purpose, ‘Start With Why‘. For that reason its my book of the week below as well.
Sinek argues that to be truly happy, fulfilled and intentional, you need to define your greater purpose; your ‘why’. In his book he outlines how knowing your why helps you define both your what and your how. By doing this he insists that you can remain adaptable and responsive to changes around you, without becoming unanchored from your core purpose.
Sinek makes the point that for many successful and well known brands, the identity they trade off and project is based more on their why than on the products they make. Apple is a good example – their products change over time, but their customers return because the brand is as a changemaker; empowering the creative – the products come second. Costumers identify with the why and so the what can change without them losing the identity they feel as part of that tribe.
Once a graduate I worked as a class teacher for about ten years, then as a web designer, trainer and roaming
minstrel music teacher for about five more. The last ten years since that I’ve spent in one organisation, and over that time become a leader and trainer for several external organisations as well. The path makes no sense, and from the outside it may appear that I’ve let myself be blown wherever the wind leads!
But that’s not the case. And it’s primarily the strong purpose that I was able to define after reading Sinek’s books that has allowed me to move between roles and organisations and retain my sense of self and purpose. It has also made some seemingly difficult decisions much easier, because my frame of reference is not a surprise or a secret: I know why I am here, and can judge new opportunities through that lens.
Sinek makes key points about the challenge of remaining true to your purpose:
“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”
But he also identifies how this can become a strength, as long as the work we are doing is true to our purpose, then the challenge of consistently delivering is not stressful but born of passion:
“Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.”
From that mindset work takes on a different perspective, which after all is the only lens that really makes a difference.
“Innovation is not born from the dream, innovation is born from the struggle.”
So in a busy life of work, family and the attempt at hobbies, why would I chose to not only continue these projects, but begin new ones like this newsletter? Passion alone is not enough. The answer for me is that they are part of my purpose; my ‘why’.
Here is what this currently looks like for me:
Why – I believe that technology can democratise learning and education.
How – I aspire to train the teachers of the future. I support existing teachers to embrace new tools and ways of thinking creatively.
What – Deputy Head of a teaching school, trainer and speaker. Course presenter and YouTuber.
Once I have this, I have a benchmark to consider new opportunities, as well as solid mental base to push off from. It guides my choices, but also my attitudes. I’m not 100% comfortable with some of these what titles – they feel a little verbose (and bring on massive imposter syndrome) – but in defining them I feel clearer about how my purpose relates to my current actions and builds towards the person I want to be.
“There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
I would encourage anyone to read his book. I think the value it adds compounds the more you use the WHY principle to steer your choices. If you are just looking to get started with defining your why I’ll leave you with these final thoughts from the book:
“For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea – we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.”
“Passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive it needs structure. A why without how has little probability of success.”