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Critical review of Simon Sinek Find Your Why, a dangerous method

Simon Sinek's book - Find Your Why is the sequel to his first book which tries to explain how to find your why (your path, your purpose, your calling, your passion, etc.), because in the first book he didn't explain how to get there, he just explained and argued his theory.

Simon Sinek's first book "Start With Why" was mainly aimed at business leaders and entrepreneurs to inspire their employees and communicate better with consumers to optimize engagement and sales. A very interesting goal that could do no wrong, you might say, and rightly so. I myself found the concept captivating at first viewing, but very quickly questions emerged.

Obviously the general public was seduced by this speaker and his simplistic concept, so much so that the demand grew for him to specify the method to find his why and clearly explain how to get there so that everyone can benefit from it for their own career or business.

Such a good speaker has a few tricks, little habits that change everything. Have you noticed how Simon Sinek repeats twice the beliefs he tries to impose without any demonstration?

For example the famous: "People don't buy what you do they buy why you do it! " or the "As it turns out, as it turns out".

What I have been telling my clients for more than fifteen years during the preparation of public speaking sessions is exatly what’s hapenning here : whatever the speech, what counts is the speaker's assurance and conviction. It is not detrimental to the audience's acceptance and appreciation of the substance of the speech to make a mistake or to tell a lot of nonsense. Most of the time, this will go unnoticed if you say it with aplomb and insistence.

You can have fun reviewing the videos and interviews, you will see that he does this quite often.

I refer you to the idea of anaphora in rhetoric, to quote Wikipedia: "... the repetition of an idea influences the being. By dint of repeating a word, this word will become anchored in the mind of the individual and eventually influence his existence. This is the principle of propaganda. An idea repeated over and over again will appear to be true to the individual. This process is also used in advertising, for example. "

If you are interested in the subject, you will also find some psychological studies that have highlighted this process in some way. After all, discoveries in psychology are the antechamber to many marketing concepts.

The main reason why I am interested in this concept phenomenon that has been perfectly packaged until it has become visibly popular today is precisely because it has evolved into a guidance method. Furthermore, I heard him say at a LinkedIn live conference in early June 2021, that he would be happy to have his concept/method implemented for American students.

Generally, I don't write about every little guidance method that emerges and I don't consider myself an authority on the world of guidance or its methods, but here we are faced with a concept that has a very wide distribution and therefore a great capacity to cause harm. I encourage you to read my review of his book "Start With Why" before continuing if you have not already done so, because I will not repeat here the criticisms made, at least not in detail.

Concerning Simon Sinek "Find Your Why", it is a book that does not elaborate on the concept already explained in "Start With Why". It explains the process and proposes steps to concretely find your "why ».

It is not a question here of making an in-depth evaluation of the method, as I have already explained in one of my books, to really evaluate the relevance of a method, we would need at least to have different groups of individuals similar in terms of life, character, etc. with a similar problem and looking for the same thing, a similar way of understanding and doing the exercises and being able to determine the degree of satisfaction with the results obtained in an objective way and the concrete effects on the lives of these individuals in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years? Does this seem feasible to you?

Scientifically impossible of course, even if I don’t have the knowledge of a researcher in terms of what can and can’t be done, there are too many uncontrollable variables, I will not go into detail, but you can imagine, to take only the last point, that it is difficult to compare the effects of something after 2 years and after 20 years, the life of the individual has been influenced by too many other things in the meantime that can interfere on his life and his feelings. After all, the effects of a career change must be measured over time.

Therefore, I will only criticize the method from a theoretical and operational point of view, the main elements of which are as follows: to be able to implement the method, you cannot do it alone, you will necessarily need someone else who is not a close friend or family member, and who is available for about 4 to 6 hours of discussion. The authors indicate that this is to ensure objectivity. Then, ideally, you will have to get your entourage to validate your reasons.

For Sinek and his co-authors, in order to find your why, you have to refer to the perception that the other person has of you and your experiences. When you think about it, it makes sense. Sinek says in an interview, if I remember correctly, that it was by helping others find their why that it all started, and given the growing demand around him he started organizing parties where he helped the guests. He then became aware of HIS why and decided to think bigger and launch this entrepreneurial adventure. The authors have transposed this process to a system where you need someone else to find your way. The other then takes on the role of Sinek. In short, at first glance, we are in a system that is similar to coaching or group coaching, without any consideration of the ethics of the profession.

There is no need to go through all the problems inherent in what is said or proposed in the book, so I will focus on the essential point: you need someone else to trust to read between the lines and to reveal your why.

So right away we can see that the coaching system is used, but not its theoretical foundations, since in coaching, it is up to the coachee to find his solutions, his answers.

Psychologists and coaches spend their lives (for the most conscientious) refining their questioning and sharpening their listening skills without judgment. And they can make mistakes, they can influence/judge you, despite their vigilance.

I invite the more curious among you to look further into the very interesting question of the different types of questioning and their effects, a search on your favorite search engine should help you.

So, to start from the principle that we should entrust this role to someone who perhaps does not have the sensitivity, the capacities or the competences to accompany you in this path and this research does not seem to me to be far-fetched, it simply seems to me unrealistic and dangerous. I would like to remind you that we are dealing with the theme of career and life choices.

Above all, it is up to the other person to find what makes sense for you, in your history and your experiences! The authors indicate that it is impossible to find your reason alone...

At this point, if we were to extend this work of questioning to identify in the book all the issues linked to influence and its effects, there would be a lot to say, but we would be going a bit beyond the scope.

What I think, and I believe needs no further analysis, is that there is no greater degree of influence in a career choice than relying on someone else to tell you what ultimately makes sense for you. This is a major red flag.

So, to come back to the fundamental point of the problematic according to me: the adaptation of its concept into a method of orientation for students. We can ask ourselves if, in order to adapt it to school, Simon Sinek thinks that students should seek the help of another student they don't know to give him all their intimacy.

I'll let you put yourself in the shoes of a student and consider the problems this poses beyond the effects and outcome of the method itself.

In order to justify the prerequisites of his method, he also tries to impose on us an abracadabrious belief that is very disturbing: the reader is told that he should not call upon someone who knows him to guarantee the objectivity of the other.

Where did this idea come from? Is this part of his theory? What is he basing this on?

In any case, even if one were to admit a better objectivity of someone who does not know us, what about his sincerity, if we need this other to find our why? And to what extent can we trust a person we don't know very well? How does this better objectivity allow this other person to better read between the lines to find our why?

We could go on and on about the process, without getting any further, because once we get past the identification of the theoretical and operational problems of the method, when we dig a little deeper, we realize that it is all based on very vague foundations, poorly documented or argued, unverifiable and unverified scientifically. In short, we should just take his words for it.

And as we have seen in my previous article, Simon Sinek's "Golden Circle" concept (the why/how/what) is somewhat fragile, both from the point of view of the marketing and commercial concepts on which it is based, but also in terms of the argumentation that is supposed to support it, which has no scientific validity and which in other cases does not even correspond to the reality of the events that are presented from a historical perspective!

It is easy to remain perplexed when one assesses the two books and if one has a bit of a critical mind, in substance there is not much. And I must admit that I still come to the conclusion, as some of the comments I have read, that he is a very good speaker who handles persuasion techniques perfectly and whose non-verbal language does a superb job of making his concept convincing, but once the moment of discovery has passed, when one looks at the content and tries to question it, a certain disillusionment appears.

As it stands, this method of finding one's WHY can only present a real danger for all those who choose it to define their reconversion and find themselves. It would also be a huge problem if it were offered to students who are often particularly influenced and gullible on this issue.

If it is about inspiring leaders and helping them recruit inspired and happy employees, fine! However, if it is used as a tool to define one's career path, to find one's way or to orient oneself, beware.

I also encourage you to read the negative reviews on Amazon of 1, 2 and 3 stars only where you will find a number of very pertinent criticisms.

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