The Power of Why

By Matt Palmer

Today’s video proposes a different approach to some of life’s issues. I just finished reading Simon Sinek‘s book “Start With Why“. I bought it after seeing this video at If you are not aware of TED talks, I urge you to check the site out. It is an amazing collection of thought-provoking video presentations of great thinkers and doers from various backgrounds from all over the world.

Simon Sinek’s book and presentation are about the power of why. His theme can be boiled down very simply to “People don’t buy what you do but why you do it.” He uses numerous examples of how this works from Apple to Southwest Airlines to Martin Luther King as successful why messages, to Wal-Mart as an example of a corporation that lost its why when Sam Walton died.

I post this for a few reasons. One, I have been spending a lot of time clarifying my why in terms of my energy project. I know it in my head, but the challenge comes in infusing the why into my proposal and pitch. It is a powerful process, and I have discovered lots of interesting things. Secondly, I feel that Simon Sinek’s thesis provides some interesting insight into the current pipeline debates with Keystone XL and Northern Gateway, as well as the debate over oil sands and energy in general.

As we think about the future of these projects, and of any energy project like wind, solar, nuclear, hydro it can be illuminating to begin to question why we need these things, and not just about what and how. And by asking why, I mean not just on an economic level, but more about what are the value propositions of each energy source including social, economic, political, and environmental impacts. Harnessing any form of energy provides us with amenities and commodities.

Fuel sources like wind. solar, nuclear, and hydro can provide us with electricity. Oil and petrochemicals on the other hand provide us with building blocks for everything we do on this planet, as well as fuel from which we harness energy. Everything around you right now has been touched in one way or another by oil and petrochemicals. There are obvious drawbacks that come from the continued use of petrochemicals, just like there are a myriad of benefits. Whether we like it or not, we must evaluate the why of hydrocarbons.

If the current debate continues to be about demonizing the opposing side, then we have lost something of ourselves and the why of our own existence.


About Unintended Consequences Documentary Project

I'm Producing and directing a multi-platform documentary project on global energy called "Unintended Consequences".
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