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What makes the 'golden circle' so golden

I was totally mesmerised by Simon Sinek's TedX Talk at Puget Sound in September 2009.

It was the first time I'd seen Simon in action and was blown away with his discoveries of how leaders inspire action and how he presented them. I loved his examples and stories of the Wright brothers, Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs and how he linked them to make his case.

Powerful stuff!

I'd been teaching the importance of purpose for many years and Simon nailed it in his presentation in such a great way. It gave great credibility to my thinking and easy for people to see the power of using WHY in a variety of leadership situations. From communicating to engage, supporting change, inspiring action, organisational strategy and value propositions.

It got me thinking, what really makes the 'golden circle' so golden?

This led to thoughts around another factor that is close to my heart. My belief that...

You can't lead anyone else, team or any organisation until you can lead yourself.

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Were the Wright brothers so successful because of their WHY or because of WHO they were; curious and brilliant engineers?

Was Martin Luther King able to inspire so many because of his WHY or because of WHO he was. What made him so successful?

He was a scholar and powerful orator with amazing soft skills of empathy, resiliency, attitude, drive, mental toughness and persistence.

Was it WHO he was that led to his WHY?

Sure he gave a 'I have a dream' speech and not 'I have a plan' speech as Simon said. But was it WHO he was that drove his dream and the difference he made?

Was Steve Jobs' success down to his quest for putting a 'dink in the universe' or was it down to WHO he was?

He had great drive for success and passion for product excellence. He insisted on elegant design, simplicity and being involved in the detail. He was famous for making the inside of Apple computers beautiful, even if it would be hidden from most of us!

What if there is a fourth circle that drives our real success? An inner circle driving the WHY?

Perhaps it isn't Start with WHY, it's Start with WHO?

What if to be truly successful you need to start with your strengths and WHO you really are.

And what if, not knowing what the fourth circle is for you, is the one thing holding you back?

I love Simon Sinek and the work he and his team do to challenge our thinking and make the complex so simple and easy to use. We all need to be provoked and challenged in today's ever changing and ambiguous world.

Is Simon so successful due to WHO he is is or is it down to his WHY or is it both?

Or is it the alignment of the WHO, WHY, HOW and WHAT?

I've read Start with Why by Simon numerous times and agree with Simon's insights. My book now has loads of post it notes, highlights and comments all over it! The power and simplicity of the Golden Circles Model inspired me to write Leadership Laid Bare and The New Leadership Manifesto in a way that makes them the most practical books on leadership ever written... according to readers!

Simon's work, be it the books, presentations, workshops or videos I've read and watched, always makes me think and reflect deeply. I love one of his latest talks on how smartphonesare damaging our success. If you haven't seen it check it out.

Going back to what drives our success I wondered if this fourth circle, deep down in our DNA or our 'hard wiring', is where we really need to start our journey from and then work on the alignment of all four circles? I wonder if that is where our real success comes from.

I wonder if the starting point for all of us is to fully understand WHO we really are, only then can we create our WHY, HOW and WHAT?

I also wonder if this is true for organisations too. Do they need to fully understand WHO they are first and build from their strengths?

What do you think?

There's been a great deal of emphasis placed on developing our different intelligences over the years. Intelligences such as emotional, spiritual, movement and political.

Neuroscientists are finding out more and more every day and strength practitioners urge us to discover our strengths and make sure we use them.

We also now know that we have three brains - head, heart and gut. And that all three brains need to be taken into account when making effective decisions. I think this probably comes from ancient wisdom that can now be backed up by the latest medical research!

I wonder if there is a way to fully map out WHO we really are and then develop a way to create our true WHY, a way to craft our true aligned purpose? A bit like what they do in sport where they map out someones movement patterns, size and thinking ability in order to align their natural characteristics to the best sport for them.

I wonder if some of the great leaders of the past naturally fell onto this and aligned to their true selves, or were they just in the right place at the right time, or were they truly self aware and knew WHO they were and WHY they were here?

The Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs all became successful because their strengths were aligned to their WHY, which then led them to the HOW and WHAT.

I wonder if by really understanding WHO we are we can then create a purpose and way of working that works with us rather than against us.

I wonder if this would help remove all the layers of social conditioning and fears to help us become truly authentic? I wonder if this is what FLOW is all about?

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When we understand who we are we can then remove our fears, be authentic and then align to our WHY. Once these two elements are working symbiotically we can then work out WHAT we should be doing and HOW to do it.

When I think about my own success it is Who I am, my strengths, my DNA that has created my WHY of 'awakening possibility in leaders to deliver extraordinary results.' I've worked out what I should be doing and the tools I need to do that.

For me it has always been about bringing the best out of people, I just didn't know it until later in my life! In my military and corporate days I was still searching. My WHY is because of WHO I am? I just happen to have worked out the WHAT and HOW too!

I believe that what makes the 'golden circle' so golden is when you know WHO you really are and align it to your WHY and then work out the HOW and WHAT. That's when the magic happens!

Do you know WHO you are?

Do you know your WHY?

And do you know WHAT you should be doing and HOW to do it.

My leadership development model I share in Leadership Laid Bare and the approach I take to develop successful leaders in my workshops follows the four circles... WHO, WHY, WHAT and HOW. When these are aligned... the change and success is incredible!

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Food for thought...

Go make magic happen.

Every success,

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About the author

Graham Wilson

Graham Wilson

I enjoy and specialise in teaching leadership skills, how to create winning strategies, how to build high performance cultures. Outcomes and results are the most important measures for me!