Few words have more emotional and intellectual and range than why.
On the simpler end of the spectrum, children ask the question why a dozen times every day.
Their curiosity about the world around them helps build concepts, skills and vocabulary. Asking why is their vehicle on the quest to understand the world they live in. Even if it drives their poor sleep deprived parents crazy.
On the more complicated end of the spectrum, businesses people ask the question why strategically. It’s an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause and effect relationships underlying a particular problem.
Yay for why.
But lest we forget, extremes in anything accomplish nothing.
When we start asking why too often, to the point of obsession, to the point of tormenting ourselves and others, our quest for certainty colonizes our mind and bastardizes curiosity into nagging lament.
We become stuck in this compulsive need to find an answer that might never come.
My old project manager was why machine. Smart guy, good dude, super left brained and logical. And yet, he was always trying to understand and intellectualize every situation that unfolded. Couldn’t stop asking why if a damn meteor hit him.
Which was useful initially, but beyond a certain point, it always felt like a form of control. A scramble to interpret life as black and white, yes or no, good or bad, right or wrong.
If the guy had a bumper sticker on his car, it would have read, a world that runs on reason feels safer to live in.
But life is rarely that simple, clean and coherent. Sometimes we don’t know why.
In fact, most of the times we don’t know why. And staring hard isn’t going to squeeze any more blood from that stone.
Our challenge is learning to be with that uncertainty.
Because our peace is more important than tormenting ourselves trying to understand why life unfolded the way it did.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
When does asking why become quicksand of torment that keeps you stuck in the past?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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