Starting with our ‘why’. Thank you Simon Sinek.

SimonSinekTEDtalkI am enjoying, and being deeply impacted by, Simon Sinek’s bestselling Start With Why (2009). His succinct and eloquent TED talk is justifiably the second most viewed of all time.

Sinek argues that a key to a healthy business is to identify, or create, a cause to live for and fight for. At the centre—at the core—there has to be an answer to the question “Why does this company exist?” And the answer should then flow, consistently and clearly, through everything the company does (“what” it does and “how” it does it). Sinek’s argument applies equally to other entities, such as charities or individuals.

I’m grateful for the book because it has helped me understand and find a language for some of my own tough life decisions.

In 2004 I made a career move that may have baffled others. After four years on an Oxford doctorate, and having worked in three great UK universities (Kings College London, Durham and Nottingham), I was on a regular academic career path. But nagging away—sometimes gnawing away in my viscera—was the sense that I needed to be somewhere else: closer to the grass roots communities I had always wanted to serve. For me, academia was always primarily a way to express and achieve a deeper purpose. I had my ‘why’ and my colleagues had theirs, even though  what we were all doing was pretty much the same (teaching and theological research).

So I stepped off the academic career ladder to become Resident Theologian at a vibrant young church in central London. The move allowed me to align my ‘why’ with my ‘what’ (providing deeper theological teaching, training emerging leaders and continuing research) and my ‘how’ (a holistic—head and heart—approach to training and education). It allowed me to use my knowledge and skills to the good of the people I had long believed I was called to serve.

At the time it felt like the right decision and now I understand better why it was the right decision.

Leave a Reply