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Value Creation Blog

5 Reasons I Love The Question Why

Posted by Josh Patrick

askingwhy2I believe why is the most important question to ask in any circumstance you might find yourself in.  Thinking about leaving your job?  Ask why.  What about moving to a different town?  Why is a good place to start.  How about starting a business?  Why can either give you a reason to or not to start your business.

I’ve written a lot about using why and where it can help you move forward.  I keep coming back to this topic because it is a question that needs to be answered but rarely is.

Why will focus you on whether your idea is good or bad.

This is the main reason I promote the use of why with everyone I work with.  If you don’t ask why, you have a good chance of chasing down rabbit holes that don’t provide value.  If you learn to ask why about everything you do, you’ll make less mistakes and have more focus.

Why will help you decide whether you should take a first step towards any decision.  Make sure that when you ask why, you go at least five questions deep.  This means that asking why once doesn’t cut it.  You’re going to have to ask why on answers you give yourself at least five times.  This will give you an answer you can do something with.

You’ll get to learn a lot when you ask why.

The more you ask why the better and faster you’re going to learn about yourself and your decision process.  You’ll start to think about what works for you in making your life better.

Asking why is as much about learning as it is about making a decision.  If you learn what your motivations are you can stop wasting time thinking about things that won’t work.  The reason Toyota asks why five times is because it helps them focus more quickly on what they think will work.  Do you think this could help you in your life?

Why can provide motivation when it’s answered well.

When you ask why five times you’ll reach a core reason for doing something.  Motivation is always an internally generated activity.  You can’t be motivated from the outside, you have to motivate yourself.

When you have a core reason for doing something motivation will come from within.  You’ll know why it’s important for you to move forward.  You will probably be willing to move outside your comfort zone.  Think back for a minute.  When was the last time you moved out of your comfort zone?  I bet it was when you had a really good reason for doing so.  I bet there was a why answer in there someplace that helped.

Why can help you gain clarity in what you want to do.

Back in the early 80’s I took a new age seminar where one of the sayings was, “clarity = power.”  That was a great saying.  There was only one problem.  I never really did figure out how to get clarity until I stumbled upon the importance of the word why.

If I understand why something is important, I will gain clarity of why the action I’m thinking about is important.  With that clarity I can lead with conviction.  I can lead myself and others in a direction that will make my life and probably other lives better.

Why can help you keep everyone on the same page.

If you have a great reason for why you want to do something you can communicate that reason to others.  You’ll find that other people will either opt in enthusiastically or decide what you want to do doesn’t work for them.  For me, either answer is just fine.  I only want people on my team who are enthusiastically going to support where I’m going.

What about you?  Are you now convinced that why just might be the missing question in your life?  I can tell you that getting into the habit of asking why has helped me make better decisions in much less time.  For me that has great value.  What about for you?

I find that budgeting is often one of the most hated activities in many companies.  If you shorten your budget process and integrate why into your thought process you’ll likely get a budget that is easier to put together and has more value.  I’ve written a white paper on what I call 4 Tiered Budgeting.  To get this special report, click on the button below.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

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Topics: value creation, communication, asking why

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