Start with Why

I was invited to a collaboration morning with Strategic UK, Darren Berry and his team last month when I was kindly given a book called “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. It was interesting because as a coach, one of the questions we were trained never to ask, was WHY as it can be seen to be too judgemental. It also means people focus on the negatives rather than looking forward, which is what coaching is all about.

What is the WHY behind NVW Solutions (I should have called my company Neil Coaching as it will always be a lifestyle company, but not to worry) is pretty simple really. I get a buzz out of seeing others get to where they want to get to. Or achieve what they want to achieve. The Solutions part of my company’s title is all about the coachee finding their own solution by hopefully me asking some of the right questions.

I had a good example of what gives me the buzz this month when I was talking to a father whose son is now a pilot in the Middle East. I coached the son 4 years ago when he first wanted to be a pilot and although I might have made only a smidgeon of a difference, this young man had the resilience to strive to get through all of the difficult tests. Now he is flying, and I look forward to seeing his video of his first flight.

Why – very few people or companies can articulate why they do what they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money – this is a result. By WHY, I mean what is the purpose, cause or belief. WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning (particularly applicable in retirement!) and WHY should anybody care?

The book centres on companies like Apple, South West Airlines, and of course Martin Luther King Jnr and I had a dream. I think you could easily put Lidl and Wetherspoons in this category too. I would like to focus on South West Airlines as I was fortunate enough to visit them in year 2000 as part of a tour of the 12 best run companies in the USA.

South West Airlines was set up to champion the cause of “we’re the champion of the common man”. In the 70s when they set up only 15% of the traveling population travelled by air in the USA. Things that South West Airlines did and from what I can remember include:

They were cheap and affordable to the person in the street

Their flights had to be fun (they often employed flamboyant people, sometimes from an acting background)

The flights had to be simple (they used to turn the flights around in 10 minutes)

I recall their Head Office was an amazing place of fun, photographs of employee’s dogs on the walls, an atmosphere which I have not seen anywhere else.

Their strapline became “you are now free to move about the country”

So, what is the message for you today? What is your WHY? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? If you are at a stage where you need greater clarification, or you are going through fundamental change and need to work out your WHY, please get in touch with me at

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