Simon Sinek on What Gets Easier and What Gets Harder

In Chapter 10 of 16 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, author and public speaker Simon Sinek answers "What is Getting Easier and What is Getting Harder in Your Life?"  Simon notes it is getting easier to spot things he should avoid and then work around the obstacles while maintaining pursuit toward his end destination or goal.  As his life becomes more public, Sinek notes how it is harder to know who to trust and shares how he is working through this situation in his life.  Simon Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people.  His goal is to "inspire people to do the things that inspire them" and help others find fulfillment in their work.  Sinek is the author of "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action".  He works regularly with the United States Military, United States Congress, and many organizations, agencies and entrepreneurs.  Sinek is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and an adjunct staff member at the think tank RAND Corporation.  Sinek earned a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Brandeis University.


Erik Michielsen:  What is getting easier and what is getting harder in your life?

Simon Sinek:  It’s getting easier to spot things that I should avoid. So for example, let’s imagine that we’re standing in the corner of a large room, and I give you a simple instruction, I want you to walk in a straight line to the other corner. Off you go. And without telling you, I put a chair in front of you. Well, you just walk around the chair on your way to that destination, right? And even though you just disobeyed my order, which is to walk in a straight line to that side. The point is the destination was more important than the route you took, right? Now if we reset and I give you the same situation, again, where we start in the corner of the room, and I say to you, I want you to walk in a straight line anywhere, you know, somewhere in this room, and you’re gonna look at me you go, well, where do you want me to go? I’m like, I don’t know, you’re smart, pick a direction. And you’ll pick a direction, you’ll walk in straight line. And without telling you I put a quick chair in front of you, quickly put a chair in front of you, and you come to a grinding halt. And I—you’ll turn to me and say, well, how can I—now where do you want me to go? You blocked it. In other words, when you know the destination, it’s very easy to make adjustments, right? And when you don’t know the destination, every obstacle, even though it’s the same obstacle, brings you to a grinding halt, or forces you to just make sudden corrections which, again, there’s no sense of direction. And so the thing that I’ve gotten much better at, is because I have a clear set, a sense of where I’m going, is I find it much easier to go around obstacles as they appear. Where you know a few years ago, they would have stopped me in my tracks.

Erik Michielsen:  What’s getting harder?

Simon Sinek:  What’s getting harder is—and I think this is for everybody as we grow older, it’s knowing who to trust. You know, we meet lots of people, and especially if you have a little bit of success in the world, it’s hard to know who to trust. Because I’ve had instances where people called me their friend, treated me like their friend, you know, they called me on weekends to see how I was doing, you know, and then when it came close—when we, you know, decided to do some work together and we look at a contract, and I made some, you know, we made some comments on the terms that we didn’t like and they went: Clearly we can’t work together.  And I never heard from them again. I was like, wait, I thought you’re my friend. You know? So it makes you cynical unfortunately, a couple of bad experiences makes you a little cynical. The hard part is, you know, you wanna trust everybody, you know? And so it’s—I’m learning. I’m learning that. That, I haven’t figured that one out completely, but I’m learning.