Some people love to ask, “How?” Others love to know, “What?” All my life, my favorite question has been “Why?” As far back as kindergarten, I can remember wondering, “Why do I need to be in school learning this stuff (math, specifically)? I’m sure I wondered it aloud and received a less than satisfactory response-my genuine curiosity wasn’t always well-received, as it got me low-graded conduct cards.
All kidding aside, my habit of asking “Why?” to tie things into my or “the” larger picture has served me well most of the time. But, I’ve realized recently that it has slowed me down, and it may not be for the reason you think. Perhaps this is slowing your business down as well?
Let’s talk first about why “why?” is great. Simply put, it ensures our decisions, actions, and words have purpose. It’s important to know the purpose behind rules, policies, procedures, decisions, processes, things, etc. This way, we aren’t just aimlessly walking around doing or saying things for no good reason. And, sometimes, when we focus on the why, other ways to achieve the “why” surface. “Why”, creativity, and flexibility can go hand in hand to ensure we are advancing and becoming more and more efficient. And, it helps to shake things up!
It can also save us time. When we consciously think about our choices and processes, we can be assured they are a good use of our time.
But, recently I found myself habitually and subconsciously asking “why?” and it wasted my time and placed me in annoying situations. I can now empathize with my kindergarten teachers who often shook their heads at my little “why” self. (This is not to be confused with my “wise” self.
So, you know that wise little voice you have that is so smart and always knows what is best? The one that sometimes you automatically follow and may not notice how brilliant it is at times? The one that you sometimes ignore but regret? It tells you to refrain from or to go for something, but something inside stops you from trusting it or following through. And, then you regret it later knowing that you knew better.
I often talk about the subconscious limiting beliefs we have that we don’t know we have that cause static on the line, making it hard to hear or follow that wise voice. Many times they are fears—fear of failure, fear of not knowing the “how” (needing more details), fear of not getting what you want, etc.
This time, I found this automated “why” program is tripping me up big time. My why-self was interfering with my wise-self. (Say that 5 times…and see if you can tell a difference between the two!)
There’s a time to ask “why” and a time to just trust.
Multiple times in the last several months, I have had hunches or feelings that I have simply ignored because I wanted to know why I felt that way. It’s not as though I didn’t know my intuition was steering me in or away from situations. I could hear it, feel it. But, the curious subconscious part of me just haaad to know “why” I was feeling that way. What was I going to miss? I know, it sounds a little sick because, if it’s not in alignment with my wise-self, then I can’t be missing out on anything great.
Sure enough, the answers that came were not so pretty. I could have spent my time in much better ways. I could have saved money.
Turning this to your business, have you ever hired someone knowing it was not a great idea because you really needed to fill the position? When I say “knowing,” I mean, you had a feeling that came to you to guide you away from the hire. Yet, you ignored it because you didn’t know “why” you had that feeling?
I bring up this HR example because I find that most of the time we want to know “why” when our gut is telling us “no” when it comes to people, to relationships-who to place on what project or with what team, etc. Pick a scenario involving a person, and this program could be tripping you up in the back ground.
Perhaps there’s an innate desire to believe in others, to have hope for them, to wish that something wasn’t so. Sometimes guilt slides under the radar to sway us. But, as I have stated many times before, guilt plays no positive role in decision-making–whether personal or professional. And, hope and belief in others has nothing to do with it.
You see, when your wise-self is signaling to you, it’s not about whether someone is good or bad, right or wrong, or whether they will become something better. It’s just telling you what is best for you, your business, and the other person in that moment with respect to that decision. There’s no reason to lace all of these other personal concerns and doubtful “whys” into the mix. Just listen, trust, and follow through. I’ve now seen enough evidence of the “why” that I don’t want to know why anymore when wise-self is signaling.
Also, if you have the tendency to ask why instead of trusting, you may also be wasting time as a manager. Sometimes your wise-self will signal you to get more details from your employees, which will uncover more information-to do something differently, to find out something isn’t being done as it should, etc. However, if you are just asking why out of habit, you’re wasting their time, your time, and your organization’s time.
Now, I’m starting to ask myself why am I am asking why just to put this into check. It’s a legitimate “why” if it’s to ensure that my actions are aligned with purpose, to ensure this is the best way to move forward, to understand someone else’s motivations, or to understand reasons for processes, procedures, decisions, and things. Short-cut: If my wise-self is prompting my why-self to ask away, then it’s positive. If it’s to question my wisdom, there’s no point in asking “Why.”
Of course, I also pulled out my usual Bridgenosis techniques to reprogram this. So, I don’t need the checks and balances, in the long run. Are there hiccups in your organization that need to be smoothed out? Every problem, obstacle, issue, and conflict happens at the creative subconscious level first. Spotting and changing the limiting thought themes that drive them is a quick and painless process that saves organizations time and money. To learn more, call us and schedule a complimentary call at (202) 709-6013 .