TODDLERS start talking and one of their first words is WHY? No matter what the parent or anyone else says, they come back with WHY? It gets to a point that, well, we just DON’T KNOW WHY.
As adults, the WHY goes much deeper. It dives into our intimate past, re-collecting experiences we’ve had, places and thoughts we meandered into that caused a specific effect… our STORY. It’s been said that FACTS TELL, STORIES SELL. WHYs sell because it is our ability to relate to others our PURPOSE for decisions, actions, goals, paths… WHY we do, be have WHAT we have and hOW we got there.
WHY? That would be a logical choice question to begin with, right? But most people ignore it completely. They go with WHAT or HOW and lose confidence when the ‘other’ spaces out or declines your idea, never to give it another thought. The ‘disconnect’ without WHY causes lost sales, lost relationships, lost hope.
Simon Sinek, in his book START WITH WHY, discusses how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. He discovered the code of behavior that DISRUPTS the status quo. He talks about leaders like Apple, Mary Kay, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. Simon discovered the Golden Circle and that it’s not just a pretty picture, but has scientific, neurological back-up. In other eras it was called the Golden Mean. Artists used it to measure focal points on a canvas. Photographers use it and call it the Rule of Thirds. It’s the Fibonacci Code depicting the perfect mathematical relationship of us to our Universe. Biologists, architects, artists, musicians, and naturalists have used this formula since the beginning of time. Actually, it always existed and was eventually uncovered when our race was ready to receive it. “When the student is ready the teacher appears”.
When I studied art education – way back when – I never knew that I was an INSIDE-OUT kind of girl. It got me an ‘A’ in Adolescent Art methods class (the only ‘A’ in that class, that semester) and an ‘A’ in Child Art (One of 2 ‘A’s). I stood out from the other students because they always began with What and How, the ‘outside -in’ questions. I did the opposite… questioning the humanity, the emotion, the COME FROM. I operated that way in my art room, identifying with my students’ unique qualities… the way they talked and related their life experiences… and connected that to the art projects I created for them. My room was a haven for expanded consciousness, to think about what we were thinking about and where our thoughts led us. Art was used to express, in abstract spacial relationships, who we showed up as, our WHY.
WHY IS OUR COME FROM. WHY is about comprehending our own mastery and being aware of what it is. Why is about relating myself to others, my purpose, and seeing if my WHY matches some one else’s WHY. When that connection plugs in, magic happens. In corporate America, Sinek gives us an Apple marketing example:
OUTSIDE-IN: “We make great computers. [what] They’re beautifully designed [how], simple to use and user-friendly. [why] Wanna buy one?”
INSIDE-OUT: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo [WHY] is by making our porducts beaustifully designed, simple to use and user-frindly. [how] And we happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one? [what]”
The two messages with a completely different delivery. They even feel different on the inside, on the gut level. The author continues to say that when a match is made, it is heaven. It created undying loyalty, even if the Apple product, let’s say, isn’t as good as a PC, Apple fans and consumers, will never buy anything else. I am one of those. My son was weaned on the Mac Classic in the 80s. He is now in computer technology for a living and has learned to stop dissing the Mac and telling me to let him build me a PC. He finally got. I am a Mac girl and that’s all there was to it!
Remember Apples first iPod TV ads? The dancing silhouetted person with wires in their ears, holding this little gadget that held a 1000 tunes? Apple laid the foundation for other companies to follow their marketing magic, and led with WHY. The What and how were secondary. They put Sony Walkman out of business. They DISRUPTED the status quo. Like Netflix did to Blockbuster and Uber did to taxis.
Now for the biology of WHY
Inside-out WHY drives behavior, the story behind the motivation. Outside-in What informs with facts and information. Why is at the gut level. It explains when some of us make decisions from the ‘gut’, intuition, ‘guidance’ that mere facts, the ‘what’, doesn’t even get close. The part of our brain that controls our feelings does not deal with language/explanation. It’s why, when we use the Limbic Brain, words are so hard to find. When we fall in love, that’s the limbic brain operating, driving us, and there is no putting it into words. It’s all feeling, isn’t it? We KNOW it’s ‘real’ because it ‘feels right!’
The How and What us the Neocortex part of the brain. It is responsible for the rational, analytical thought and language. People don’t buy what WHAT you do they buy WHY you do it. In case you haven’t noticed, advertisers on TV have followed Apples lead on WHY. Commercials promote the human, personal side of their products first, then talk about what it does. They drive home WHY you want it and how it enhances your life.
The question now is, how do you operate? Inside-out or Outside in? Which one do you think is manipulative and which is inspirational? How do you make decisions or relate to others? From the Limbic brain or the neocortex? Do you follow the herd or DISRUPT the status quo? Do you want to influence someone else? Tell them WHY something is important to you. Or tell them WHY it could change their life. If you explore the other person just a little, find out what they don’t like, if they are happy doing what they are doing or not, then you can deliver a WHY they can’t refuse. Facts (what) tell. Stories (WHY) sell.