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August 21, 2012

Start with why, not what

Samuel Pierpont Langley should’ve been the first person to get an airplane off the ground, not the Wright brothers. He had everything you’d need to do it: tremendous funding from the War Department, his pick of the brightest minds for staff, a Harvard education, even the institutional support of the Smithsonian. (The Wright Brothers didn’t even go to college and they scraped together funds from their bicycle business.)

Langley had it all -- except a decent reason.

So says Simon Sinek, the author of “Start With Why.” Sinek’s book and his TED talk (below) have a singular point: people who do really remarkable, really creative work that has tremendous social impact all exhibit a similar pattern of (oddly enough) storytelling. Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., the Wright brothers -- each of them started with “why” then “how” then “what.” Most of us work the other way around.

You’ll miss the big picture here if you think all Sinek’s talking about is how to get people to buy your “product,” however you want to define that. He’s talking about creating and leading with purpose, and doing it in a way that people can’t help but want to join in. Why? Because it strikes a deep accord with what they believe and what they yearn for.

Christians have a story worth telling. Don’t forget to tell it well.

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