Some say the letter Y is a crooked later, a cute way of shutting down the question, why. I say that why has straightened many a crooked path. Asking why, questioning our answer and once again questioning our next answer is a very clarifying process.
When we want to empower ourselves to do something which may be difficult to do, we just skip to the core. Why? We remind ourselves of that and we are empowered.
I have a 2‑year‑old son who is the cutest boy in the world, and I hope you say the same about yours. And he’s at a stage now where he always asks a question because he learned one new word and that is why. So he asks why all the time. We call everyone to the dinner table and say, okay, everyone come to the table, we’re going to have dinner. And his question is, why? And I may answer because everyone is hungry. Why? Because we didn’t eat in a while. Why? Because everyone was in school. Why? So that they can learn. Why? And he just continues asking why.
And what’s fascinating is what that uncovers with every additional question. And sometimes it reaches a point where it’s difficult to answer the question not only because it’s hard to explain to a 2-year-old, but because it’s not that clear to me as to why. We’re going outside, put on your coat. Why? Because it’s cold. Why? Because it’s the winter. Why? Great questions. And they begin to make me think about things that I typically never think about. I just assume when you go outside and it’s cold, you put on your coat, without understanding or really thinking about that full process of the whys.
And the reason why I’m sharing this is because there’s a saying, why is a crooked letter, a cute play on the word of why to discourage people from asking why. And what I’m sharing is that the question why is one of the most powerful questions you can ever ask yourself. You’ll be surprised how often we aren’t even clear why we do certain things. We never really thought it through. We never followed the process of repeatedly asking why, answering, and asking why again on the answer until we get to the very core reason of why. This is the reason why we should be asking why.
And when we get to the very core reason of why we do something, that is so powerful because if that is a good reason, if it’s truly a good reason, then when we want to empower ourselves to do something which may be difficult to do, we just skip to the core, why. We remind ourselves of that and we are empowered.
And when we are doing something for a why which is not a good reason, we just skip over to the core why and we say, oh, this is why I’m doing that? No, no, no. This isn’t really what I want to do. It empowers us not to do it.
We take our kids to play soccer because they’re on a team. Why are they playing soccer? Why are they on the team? Is it for them? Is it for the parents? It’s for them. Why is it good for them to play soccer? Et cetera, et cetera.
We can ask these questions all the time. Let’s look at this scenario. You’re eating pizza for dinner. Why? The answer may be, I don’t want to cook tonight. Why? Because I’m too tired. Why? Because I stayed up late last night reading. Now when I stay up tonight and I want to read, I think to myself staying up tonight means me eating a dinner tomorrow night which I don’t want to eat for dinner because it doesn’t ‑‑ it’s not healthy, it doesn’t work for my diet or whatever it is. And now we can impact dinner tomorrow night because we have clarified why we are too tired to cook a healthy dinner. That is powerful.
Let’s take this a little bit further and make this a little bit more uncomfortable. Do you ever want to tell someone something? Why do you want to tell that to them? Maybe the answer is so that they should know whatever. Why do you want them to know that? Because they should know so that they can do better next time. Why do you want them to do better? And you may discover that the reason why you want them to do better has nothing to do with them, it has everything to do with you. And that will be the first reason why they are not going to listen to you when you speak to them because you’re speaking about yourself, not about them. That why can empower you not to say something which will not be productive. Very powerful.
Why don’t you want to apologize to a person that you offended? Well, maybe you’ll say, it won’t help. Well, why won’t it help? Maybe you’ll say because they don’t care anyway when I apologize to them. Why don’t they care? Maybe the reason they don’t care is because you don’t actually genuinely, sincerely, deeply apologize to them. You just call them and say, oh, I’m sorry. Maybe this is a revelation about you and, therefore, you can learn how to apologize. Instead of just dismissing it as they never listen, the why gets you to why they never listen, why they don’t accept the apology.
Good writers always ask why. Why am I writing this sentence? What does it contribute to this paragraph? Excellent writers never write extra words. Every single sentence is needed and it’s needed because they ask themselves why am I writing these words in this paragraph.
You see, if we learn to minimize our subjectivity of the events that happen in our life, where we make it all about us and we automatically then expand our honesty about ourselves, we discover that many things are being done for unworthy reasons. The why is not a deserving why and we shouldn’t be doing things for that reason. And we will also discover the why, the true reason that we are excited or empowered to do other things. And when we know the why, we have a powerful tool to get us to do or to not do the things that we should be or shouldn’t be doing. That is the whole power over here.
Am I doing this because my friends expect this of me? Am I doing this because society will say I’m strange if I don’t? Am I doing this because I want to avoid doing something which is more important or I have a greater responsibility towards? This is an avoidance thing. When we know the why of anything, we have something powerful in our hands. The why is the core and it has the power to turn us around instantly. And that’s why we always need to ask again and again, why.