Fundamental #7: Always Ask Why
The 30 Fundamentals that make up the “ConnectSMART Way” describe how we want to run our business – the way we treat our clients, the way we work with each other, and even the way we relate to our vendors and suppliers. They’re who we are and they’re the foundation of our success. They drive everything we do, every day. Each week we focus on a different fundamental and discuss in depth.[/content_box]
Fundamental #7: Always Ask Why
Be curious and question what you don’t understand. Encourage and expect healthy and vigorous debate. Respectful, constructive conflict is vital to our company’s health. There’s no better question than “Why?” Never stop asking it.
The question ‘why’ can be either empowering or enslaving. It depends on the motivation behind the question. Most of the time the question “why” has a silent end to the question. It is really a “why me?” Y-U-No …? The popular meme is about other people being responsible for your happiness. This “Why” is easy to spot as it typically has a bit of a whine in it!
Simon Sinek wrote an excellent book called ‘Start with Why’. In it he relates a story of how a car is made in the US and in Japan. Every step of the line was identical until they put the doors on. In the US they used rubber mallets to adjust the metal to fit just right and they did not in Japan. When asked, the reason was that they designed it to fit correct in the first place. The US automaker had a legitimate problem of the doors not fitting quite right, but the resolution was the hammer instead of fixing it at the source. We often settle for the blunt instrument approach to issues that we come across. “If it doesn’t fit – get a bigger hammer”. Maybe you should ask why you need a hammer so much?
I am sure we have all heard the story of the woman who was teaching her daughter how to make a roast. She would take the roast, cut the end off and put both pieces in the roasting pan. Her daughter asked her why she always cut the end off and she only knew it was because her mom had taught her that way. When the grandmother was queried as to why she cut off the end of the roast he replied that it was because her pan was too small. How many things are we doing that we don’t really know the reason why? It is just habit, or someone told us that was the way to do it? Often in our business as technology changes so do many of the rules. We need to be constantly asking why – even if there was a really good reason for the way something was done, does it still apply? Winners ask “why?” and “how can I make it better?”. Whiners ask “why me?”
Take a few minutes and think about why. Why do you do what you do? Not just at the micro level but at the macro. Why do you come to work every day? Is it just for a paycheck? If it is, you should consider finding a place where the why is more than that. You may know really know the reason, but I encourage you to search for it. The old saying of “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is a crock. Sometimes life is really hard work. But if you know why you get up every morning and face the good and the bad you won’t find yourself surprised or wondering if it is worth it!
So, ask “Why”, don’t “Whyne”. Remember that the intent behind the question is so important. Give other people the benefit of the doubt and assume positive intentions (#20) if you find yourself being the one questioned. Don’t just ask others why, but ask yourself and have the courage to make a change.