You may be familiar with the TED talks, a nonprofit venture devoted to ideas worth spreading. They are available online and they are inspirational. Recently, Simon Sinek did a talk wherein he revealed a very simple, but powerful model for inspirational leadership. It can be viewed and heard at

It is well worth listening to, as are many of the TED talks. Among the captivating things from Sinek’s talk that drew my attention – as someone who seeks to optimize and even maximize health behavior changes for people living their lives on purpose on our planet – was his notion of getting to the core of people’s belief system. In Motivational Interviewing, we advocate and have a wealth of evidence for the use of powerful, open-ended questions. Typically, those questions begin with the word, ‘what‘ and they are most often some version of ‘what is it like to be you?’ What-questions invite people to experience themselves, to get through their wall of rational defenses or what Sinek calls the neo-cortex. However, slightly different than Sinek’s notion of inspiring people to buy-into something (a product like Apple for example), in dealing with human behaviour changes and decision-making, what-questions allow us to penetrate to the core of who are clients are, to get at their beliefs, their deeply important feelings and values, into the limbic system of the human brain. Getting to that core of your clients opens the gateway to working with their motivation, what inspires them, and moves them toward the change/s they want in their lives.