Six times.

A wise woman once told me to ask “Why” six times.

I don’t think it was her original thought, but it was a good one. I think the credit may lie with Simon Sinek, but maybe I think that because he is very widely known to start there.

There were some things I didn’t learn from my last manager. Some things I learned that I try to unlearn. Some things I learned, and will move forward differently and in a way that aligns with my principles.

Principles? What are those?

Huh. I’m not really sure. I think they’re like values, but just… fancier.

“Values”, I know, are those things I get very angry over. The times I am the most upset are the times I recognize, in myself, the things that are most important to me. Even those things I try to deny, like how I get angry when someone else makes me look disorganized. Nobody makes me look disorganized but me! I wish I could deny it, but I can’t help that I’m self-conscious, that part of my cognitive effort is focused on a desire to ‘look good’. I’m not immune to all evils, certainly not ego.

Six times – we were talking about six times. Six times – “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” Seems like a lot. Six times to start to uncover the layers upon layers we mask our true thoughts with.

“Why?” Because of X symptom/consequence.

“Why?” Because of Y action.

“Why?” Because of Z emotion.

“Why?” Because of A reason.

“Why?” Because of B personality.

“Why?” Because of C events in their past.

And suddenly you start to understand someone a little bit better.

The layers start to peel away and you are left with something you can deal with. Hopefully. You peel away the petals. You peel away the leaves. You peel away the stem. You wipe away the dirt. Grab your shovel – one swift motion and you can really get to the root of it. It might not be pretty, but it’s real, and true – and you can deal with it.

You can ask, “Why?” once, twice. You can deal with whatever you find. That’s okay too. It’s just that there will be times when you are, well, wasting your time. So make sure you’re okay with that when you start to deliver a solution for a problem that is eight layers deep while you’re two layers in!

This coming from a reformed young woman who could have easily been the most impulsive person any of you had ever met.

In the absence of solutions, start with questions…

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