Simon Sinek on How Finding Purpose Increases Sense of Fulfillment

In Chapter 3 of 20 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, author and leadership expert Simon Sinek loses his passion and rebounds by understanding his why, his purpose. Sinek references "Man's Search for Meaning" author Viktor Frankl and the three means Frankl identified to find purpose: through a loving relationship, service, and suffering. Sinek came to understand his own why through suffering and reinvention of self. By clarifying his why, Sinek better understands what actions to take to live a more meaningful and fulfilled life. Simon Sinek is a trained ethnographer who applies his curiosity around why people do what they do to teach leaders and companies how to inspire people. He is the author of "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action". Sinek holds a BA degree in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University.


Erik Michielsen: How has better understanding your "why" put you in a more impactful position to change the world?

Simon Sinek: Well, I mean, I'm a guinea pig, you know? When I discovered this thing called "The Why" it came at a time in my life when I had lost my passion for what I was doing. And it wasn't because I saw a market opportunity, or it was an academic exercise, it came out of a time of need. Victor Frankle, the guy who wrote "Man's Search for Meaning". He said that you can find your purpose one of three ways: Through a close, loving relationship; through service; or through suffering. And for better or for worse, mine came through suffering. I wouldn't go through what I went through again, I have no desire to go through what I went through, but I'm glad that it happened. And I literally stopped talking about what I do and started talking about what I believed in the world that I imagined.

You know, there are over 90 percent of people who go home at the end of the day not feeling fulfilled by the work that they do. And this is the point I was in in my own life. Everything superficial looked good but I didn't - I didn't care - I didn't love what I did I just, I went through the motions. And I am now working towards a world in which that statistic is reversed. I imagine a world in which over 90 percent of the population is fulfilled by what they do, that 90 percent of the population goes home at the end of the day and says, "I love my job; I love my work." And for me, that kind of focus is itself fulfilling. To be able to contribute and help build that world, and to see it build. So, understanding my own "why" has absolutely contributed to my own sense of fulfillment.