Start with Why – So that the Team will “Believe” and Accomplish the What – (Insight from Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin)

I read quite a few business books. There are themes, pieces of wisdom and advice, that are repeated in many books. Like this one: when you’ve got someone on your team who is actually harming your team, and they have resisted all attempts at changing their destructive behavior, there is only one solution – get rid of such a person.

Well, here’s another one: start with why. Maybe it started with Simon Simek, “Start with Why.” (Although, I suspect it actually started centuries ago, and certainly Peter Drucker had some thoughts along those lines).

Extreme OwnershipBut I think I’ve found the best treatment of this that I’ve ever read. It is in the chapter “Believe” in Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by former Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Here’s a key quote from the chapter:

When they understood why, they would commit to the mission, persevere through the inevitable challenges in store, and accomplish the task set before us.

And here’s my “mapping” of the thought process:

  • Start with Why
  • so that
  • the folks leading the teams, and the team members one-and-all, can and will believe that this why
  • is worthy of their full and best effort
  • and
  • thus, this why will lead to the accomplishment of the mission at hand.

Until everyone knows the “why,” understands the “why,” and believes in the “why,” the “what” will likely never be accomplished.



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