I love this image and the simplicity of it in delivering a complex message! Simon Sinek in his TED talk uses this image to describe the reason certain companies like Apple excel and outperform other companies like Microsoft.

He says that if you focus outside-in, with WHAT you provide, like Microsoft – people won’t get engaged in your products, whereas if you focus inside out, starting with your WHY and communicate in this way, then people gravitate towards your product or service.

I think this is interesting and can be applied to people and why we gravitate towards certain people. I’ll give you 2 examples in a company perspective of the outside-in, then the inside-out perspective and then look at how this can be applied to ourselves.

Simon in his talk says the thinking outside-in goes like: WHAT – We make computers to allow you to process word documents. HOW we do this is by using the best materials to allow this task to happen. WHY – we want your money so do you want to buy one?

If you focus inside-out it goes like this: WHY – our reason for existing is that we want to challenge the status quo and constantly innovate. HOW – by creating products that are beautiful, simple and using the best materials. WHAT – you can process word documents. Want to buy one?

It’s interesting flip on this way of thinking and my examples I’m just making up but you get the idea.

Imagine using this in a personal example. Imagine meeting 2 people. They’re showing you how to ride a bike. First we’ll start with outside-in, then inside-out:

First person (outside-in) – WHAT you need to do is keep your feet on the pedals, focus on keeping your weight in the middle. HOW – lift your feet onto the pedals, keep your bum on the seat so you have all your weight in the middle. WHY – so you don’t fall over.

Second person (inside-out) – WHY you should cycle – so you can see the world and visit many beautiful places using your energy to get there. HOW – by keeping your weight in the middle of the bike and balancing and calibrating to keep you from falling over. WHAT – keep your feet on the pedals and keep your weight in the middle.

Again I’m just making up these examples, but thinking about it I’m already drawn to the second person’s style of teaching. When I fall over, I’ll know WHY and keep on trying because it’s going to get me to this end-goal of visiting many beautiful places.

They say PASSION is the willingness to suffer for it – and I think when you focus on finding the WHY – you hack into this passion and use this as energy towards it. Why are Apple lovers so passionate about it? Because they’ve been engaged with the WHY.

So imagine now meeting 2 interns, they’re both doing word processing tasks and first one is focused outside-in, second person is focused inside-out.

First person describing what they’re doing: WHAT – I’m typing these minute notes as quickly as I can. HOW – I’m trying not to make mistakes and write as quickly as I can. WHY – because I have to for my job.

Second person describing the same: WHY – I’m working on this job to better learn how the corporate world works, get a good reference and to save money for college. HOW – I’m writing as accurately as I can so I can get a good reference and won’t have to redo the tasks to allow me time to study in the evening. WHAT – I’m typing as many words per minute allowing time to fix mistakes.

Which person would you hire? The one doing their job, or the one following their WHY? Which person is more engaged? Which person is willing to learn and grow in the job? It’s interesting to think about. Manager engagement and staff engagement in learning is always something that companies want to improve.

Maybe we’re focused outside-in, instead of inside-out?

Imagine applying this to yourself. The WHY is your purpose, your reason for being. The HOW is the method of delivery – and the qualities that you apply to what you do. The WHAT are the things you do, the tasks etc.

So for me – my WHY is that I want to motivate and inspire people to realise their potential and achieve their goals. My HOW is that I want to be energetic and motivated myself to achieve this WHY. And the WHAT I do are the videos I record, this blog I write, the coaching sessions I do and the talks I give.

If I focused the other way around, I’d be doing things, without any real direction in HOW I should be doing it and with no real purpose or direction to the tasks. I’d just be doing the tasks. Rather than engaged and motivated to complete the tasks because they help me achieve my purpose.

What do you think? How can you find your WHY? How can you use this WHY to come up with the qualities, the HOW you’ll achieve your purpose? How can you use both of these to choose what you do and the tasks that you do rather than just unconsciously DO?

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