What’s Your ‘Why’?


By Ben Henderson, PE, SE

Simon Sinek Golden Circle, https://simonsinek.com/golden-circle/

I recently sat down with a young man who was interested in joining my team. He was very cerebral in his thinking, and before long, we were delving into his experience and what he liked most about his time in the industry. He mentioned that recently, he had the opportunity to see one of his projects in action—real people interacting with his design. He said it really drove home a feeling of purpose, the ‘why’ he did what he did. He found that his purpose wasn’t money, it wasn’t working on the most complicated project, and it wasn’t having more vacation days, but rather, it was getting a chance to see how what he did made a difference in a few people’s lives. He mentioned that finding this purpose helped him become even more motivated to help others through his great work.

This interaction caused me to think about The Golden Circle theory from one of my favorite public speakers, Simon Sinek. Simon developed a target-shaped graphic (above), with ‘Why’ at the center, ‘How’ in the second ring, and ‘What’ in the outer ring. Simon shares on his website that “every organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. Companies and people know HOW they do what they do and can typically communicate these processes clearly. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do what they do.” He goes on to share that “the inspired leaders—every single one of them, regardless of their industry—think, act, and communicate from the inside out. People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.”

So, what is your ‘why’? Why are you driven? Why do you do what you do? All people on our team seek purpose—they’d like to find their ‘why’, which will drive them, your team, and your organization to great heights and an abundance of success. And let’s not assume our ‘why’ is our team’s ‘why.’ As leaders, we need to understand the ‘why’ of all our team members—then, and only then, can we work to provide an environment for each and every one of our team members to flourish.

Reference: https://simonsinek.com/

Ben Henderson, PE, SE, is a Vice President for Kimley-Horn. He can be reached at Ben.Henderson@kimley-horn.com.