I’m not a huge fan of business books. You know, the ones where the author claims to have the answer to turning your business into a household name and you into a multi-millionaire if you only follow his or her “five secrets of success.”
However, a book I read a couple years ago, “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” by Simon Sinek, has stuck with me and has driven a lot of my professional and personal decisions ever since I finished the final page.
In “Start With Why,” Sinek lays out a case for what he believes is the biggest reason the most successful companies are exactly that – the most successful companies. Like Southwest Airlines and Apple, Inc.
Their leaders make their decisions based on why the company exists and not because of what the company does or how it does it.
When they make decisions, they start with “Why?”
Sinek ties this back to the oldest, deepest, most human part of our brains – the limbic brain.
“The power of the limbic brain (the part of our brain responsible for all human behavior and all our decision-making, but with no capacity for language) is astounding,” Sinek writes. “It not only controls our gut decisions, but it can influence us to do things that seem illogical or irrational. Leaving the safety of one’s home to explore faraway places. Crossing oceans to see what’s on the other side. Leaving a stable job to start a business out of your basement with no money in the bank.”
What about making the decision to live a healthier, more active, more fit lifestyle?
For many, this can seem like an illogical or irrational decision. You want me to lift what? You want me to get up at what time? You want me to eat that?
But too often, when debating whether or not to lead a healthier lifestyle, we focus on the what and not the why.
“I want to look better.”
“I want to lose 15 pounds.”
“I want bigger muscles.”
Those are all “whats.” They are results, but they are not the reason for why you would get up at 4:45 a.m. every day to go to the gym to workout. They are not the reason for why you would put on winter gear and go for a 5-mile run in the cold wind and snow in winter. They are not the reason for why you give up the convenience – and indulgence – of fast food for homemade, fresh-cooked meals.
Goals made up of “whats” and hows” are most likely to be the ones that cause you to backslide, or worse, give up completely, on your fitness goals.
Finding and understanding – and in some cases, admitting – why you want to begin a fitter, healthier, more active lifestyle can be the difference between flaming out after a few months and completely and radically changing your life for the better.
For me, my “why,” – and the reason I started Fit Dad Fitness – can be summed up like this: I want to be around for my kids for as long as possible, and I want to inspire other fathers to do the same.
I can’t do that if I’m overweight, if I have heart disease, if my body breaks down from years of abuse and neglect – all things that I’m at a much higher risk of experiencing if I’m not being as physically active and fit as I can be.
Yes, I began working out and eating healthier because I wanted bigger muscles and six-pack abs. But I told myself those things when I was 15, and 18, and 21. It wasn’t until my first child was born, and my priorities shifted, that my “why” came into focus and I finally committed to a life of working out, being physically active and eating right.
So whether you are far along on your fitness journey or just getting started, spend some time to reflect on your goals (I wrote about goals in a previous post), and make sure you can answer the question of “Why?” for yourself.