There are a truckload of self-help and self-improvement books out there. Some are good, and some are well, not quite there. And right near the top of the ones that are good is Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. The reasons for this are simple – the book is incredibly easy to read, and has a lot of third party examples in it. We think both are rather important. A self-help book that you need help to read defeats its purpose and well, we are not great fans of the “I dd this so I succeeded, and so must you” approach (no, we do not give a whatever to the Subtle Art of Not Giving A F**k school of thought).
Start With Why is a rather slim volume. It is about 250 pages and while it does not come with fancy charts and illustrations, it makes for very smooth reading. And that is mainly because Sinek writes as well as he speaks – he has one of the most popular TED talks to his credit, and actually even that is about the same concept that is covered in this book. Start With Why is supposed to be about leadership – “How great leaders inspire everyone to take action” is part of the full title – but the book is actually more about a general approach to life.
And according to Sinek, that approach works best if you know actually what you stand for. That is the “why” he refers to in the title of the book. Sinek stresses that knowing REALLY why you are doing something (whether it is business or life) will not only help you do better, but will also make others believe in you. It sounds a tad too simple, doesn’t it? Well, Sinek spends some time explaining what your ‘why’ really could be and makes it very clear that just ‘making money’ or ‘being happy’ is not it. He does so with a mix of sensitivity and humour. And then there are the examples. Sinek pulls out examples from all walks of life to show how knowing why you are doing something makes a massive difference. Why does Apple always do well when it has the same resources as others? Why were the Wright Brothers able to make the first powered aircraft when others with much more capital and resources were working on the same? Sinek says that while knowing what you are doing and how you are doing are important, knowing why you are doing something is what really accounts. And surprisingly, not too many seem to know that.
Some of it might come across as being a little too simplistic. And you may not agree with it all. But Simon writes so well that you will end up reading most of it. And a lot of it might make you shake your head in disbelief. But it will be pleasant disbelief. You might wonder if what you have read is too good to be true. And that might tempt you to try it. We were. And it surprisingly worked quite often. That’s what self help books should do. Make you do stuff and think differently. Which is why we recommend you read Start With Why.