The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, a Leadership Perspective 12 of 15

The Law of Curiosity – Growth is Stimulated by Asking Why?

“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” – George Bernard Show

3 Things I have noticed about “Why?”

I – Why Can Have a Negative Connotation

We are all biased to think our ideas are better than everyone else.  Hence, when others start asking “why this” or “why that” we have the tendency to get defensive and assume they are out to get us.  As leaders we must clarify our intent to understand instead of judge.  We seek to comprehend the reasoning and process that went into the idea or project.

This negative bias is the main reason why many books suggest to replace “why” with how, what, which, or could.

  • Why did you do vs. what was your thought process
  • Why this model vs. could you walk me through
  • Why this way vs. which options did you consider

II – Why Can Be an Effective Problem Solving Tool

Humans want to feel important.  One of the ways used to achieve greatness is by quickly offering solutions to issues.  The problem with this approach is the solutions come before the root of the problem is identified.

I recall reading about Six Sigma’s concept of the 5 Whys to identify the root cause.

  • I can’t get my job done.  Why?
    • I seem to be always behind. Why?
      • Can’t get the information I need.  Why?
        • Too much data flying around.  Why?
          • I can’t filter what I need.  Why?
            • I don’t have a clear goal and expectation for the projects.

This may not be a perfect example but think about your reactions to the first two statements.  Chances are you starting judging the person and suggesting time management strategies.  As the digging continued, you realize the problem is the absence of clear goals and expectations and not the person’s ability.

III – Can Be a Way to Connect with People

We all like to share our life’s stories and ideas.  A properly placed “why’ in the middle of a conversation can show our interest and engagement in what the other person is sharing.

In turn, the story teller feels listened to and understood.  The “listening” shows caring; “caring” builds trusts; trust creates a bond; and a bond can lead to a friendship-like effect.  Leaders must connect with people in order to better guide them to success.  After all, people are most likely to follow a person they consider a friend.

There you have it.  Three major powers of one word.  Master the art of why and see your influence and productivity thrive.

What other powers do you see with “why”?

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