What do Apple Computer, the Wright Brothers, and Martin Luther King, Jr. have in common? Listen to the most popular TED talk of all time and find out. Simon Sinek’s 2009 talk has been viewed more than 38 million times, and translated into 47 languages. And it is based on a very simple concept, that people are motivated by “why” more than by “what.” And we are much more likely to follow those who know why they are doing what they are doing. I loved his story of the Wright brothers and the difference between their pursuit of manned flight, and the same pursuit by Samuel Pierpont Langley. Langley had all the resources, was backed by the government, and by all accounts should have beaten the Wright brothers to the finish line. But he didn’t. Sinek suggests it was because Langley was pursuing flight as a what, a means to attain fame and fortune. But the Wright Brothers had a dream; they were motivated by (my words), “a calling.”
There are leaders, and there are those who lead, Sinek says. Leaders have positions of authority, but those who lead have a passion that is rooted in a calling. They inspire others to follow.