« Supporting the Urban Effort: The National Center for Urban School Transformation | Main | AVID Center’s Urban Success Imperative »

Starting with Why

By Gordon Mosher III, Program Manager, AVID Center Western Division

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

~Simon Sinek

Always start with the “why.”  Most of us are used to the question, “What do you do?” But what if we were asked, “Why do you do what you do?”  When we start with the “why,” we can then better understand “how” we should proceed and “what” needs to be done.  There is an excellent Ted Talk by Simon Sinek, a leadership expert and author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He spoke during a TEDx conference in Puget Sound, Washington.  I encourage you to watch the video!

If you have time to read his book, you will not be disappointed.  Start with Why follows the same path as the Ted Talk, but goes much deeper.  There are multiple, in-depth examples of how successful people, organizations, and companies have achieved success by starting with the “why.”  One of the powerful themes found throughout the book is that of the “Golden Circle,” which many great leaders and companies use to frame their decisions.  We can connect this to why we do what we do in the classroom.  If we understand “why” we provide rigorous instruction to all students, then we can also identify “how” this can be done, and “what” needs to take place in all of our classrooms.

Simon Sinek - "Golden Circle" Image from www.life-engineering.com

John F. Kennedy once said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”  If we believe this, then we must continue to find educators who believe that all students have the ability to find success in a global society.  Simon relates to this by stating, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money.  But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

As you frame the work that you do in your districts and sites, always start with the “why.”  If our mission aligns to the work that we do, students will benefit.  AVID’s mission to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society closely parallels most school districts’ mission statements.  As Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The secret of success is constancy to purpose.”

So what is your why? Why do you do what you do?

Gordon Mosher III is a Program Manager for AVID Center Western Division.  He currently works with schools in Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

Gordon: This is THE most important message to make about AVID's quality, future and moral purpose. What we do matters, but who we are and why we do what we do is more important. Neuroscience has shown that what we deeply feel such as inspiration is what animates what we do. Why we hang in there with challenging youths comes from moral purpose: the gut feeling which compels us to work miracles. Just listen to an AVID student speaker at the Summer Institute. They show us WHY we go out and use Cornell Notes or Socratic Seminar. Good stuff!

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill Madigan

Thanks Bill. I totally agree with you on all points. We need to understand WHY we do this amazing work with young people before we can understand HOW. See you soon.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGordon Mosher

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>