The Power of Why
Little kids constantly ask "WHY" and then we teach them to stop. But, there's great power in asking WHY to reassess your life.
Little kids are notorious for asking “Why?”
Why do I need to go to bed now?
Why do I need to eat my peas?
Why do I have to stop playing now?
And soon after they start to ask this really important developmental question, we teach them to stop questioning and do as they’re told. Is it any wonder that we’re raising kids who can’t think for themselves? We’ve taught them to blindly follow orders.
Why? Because that’s how we were taught. And kids who ignored that dictum were labeled as rebels, not a flattering characteristic in previous generations. Now, we applaud the rebels because they are the ones who question authority and the status-quo to make breakthroughs. Rebels are the ones changing the world. That’s pretty powerful.
You can be a rebel. And ironically, you’ll find so much more peace than the moniker implies. It’s actually a pretty easy concept. The tough part is the practice because it takes a shift in paradigm or your default way of doing things. It’s so worth it, though.
So, here are the instructions. Are you ready?
When you’re making a decision, ask yourself why for each possible choice.
That’s it. Simple, huh? Yet, pretty revolutionary because we are so conditioned to do as we’re told.
Let me give you a few examples of how I practice the power of why.
Two years ago, my then 14-year-old daughter asked to go with a few friends to a rap concert in an open kind of venue. This particular rapper is known to attract a rather drug-friendly crowd. No parents were going to be attending the concert with the girls. When I was considering her request, I didn’t automatically say no. I asked myself why I was saying no. Why could it possibly be a bad idea? Here’s what I came up with: I believed that a group of attractive, inexperienced high school freshmen might get a bit swallowed up in an uncontrolled crowd of people, some of whom might be under the influence and in a partying mood. While I was not afraid my daughter would be tempted to use drugs that night or in the future because of her attendance, I was concerned that she might be treated in a way that would make her very uncomfortable. I didn’t want her exposed to groping or leering or pushing in a crowd that was more mature and experienced than she was. I explained this to her, and she understood.
Yet, about a month ago, she asked to go to see a lesser-known rapper that she’s been following for years as he rises in popularity. She was going with a senior who would be driving two hours to the concert and would be returning that night. The young man driving is the son of a police officer and a responsible person. He has driven long distances by himself before, and I trust him with my daughter. In addition, I trust my daughter. She works very hard in school and extra-curricular activities. And the venue is much smaller with a younger crowd less likely to see my daughter as fresh meat. When she asked, I said yes after considering. She deserves my respect and acknowledgement of her hard work and responsibility. I know how much she likes this performer, and there really wasn’t a negative reason for not letting her go other than the drive. She reassured me that the young man’s parents trusted him, and I realized that they would be on a major road and much less likely to be tired than I would be if I drove them. So I said yes.
I also ask myself why when I teach. Why do I have specific rules or deadlines? That doesn’t mean I chuck them all out the window. On the contrary. It does mean, however, that I don’t have rules and expectations just because that’s the norm. What I set as boundaries and expectations are because I have asked why. I explain my reason for each when I introduce them to my students or if I change my mind about one. My experience has been that students actually thank me for being so reasonable and I have very few objections or discipline problems. Less stress for me and for my students.
This might sound like it is exhausting because I ponder every decision. But the more I practice this, the easier it becomes. And the more I am operating from what truly feels right to ME and not someone else’s rules, the more at peace I am, so the effort pays off in spades.
Some rules can’t be ignored, of course. I am still under the laws of the government and the workplace. But in all other matters, which is a lot, I relish being the rebel. And I highly encourage leaders who make the rules to ask why before setting anything in stone. When an organization wants to change, the first thing to ask with each alteration is why. Why do you want to make that change? Why do you want to set that expectation? And let others examine those changes as well.
Then, when telling your children or employees about your decision, you will have solid reasons for them which will actually make enacting them so much easier. And if nothing else, I’m all about making things more peaceful and easier.
If you’d like to chat about how to really put the power of why into practice, send me a message.. I can teach you to wow your friends, family, and coworkers with your new rebel superpower. Total game changer! You’ll see.