“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Albert Einstein
Today’s wisdom message is about going that all important, one level deeper, and asking this question: “Why?” Charting a solid path forward from whatever situation we find ourselves in requires us to understand not only what is going on, but why.
The simplest examples come from nearly any business setting. Sales (or click-through, satisfaction ratings, deals closed . . . name your metric) is lagging. We need to drive sales. Ok great, but how to drive sales and whether or not you are ultimately successful, depends on why sales are down. Did you spend what you planned to spend on marketing this quarter? How strong was the execution? Is awareness, trial, or repeat down? Are customers dissatisfied with your product or service? Did competitive activity change? Is there some extraordinary trend or change taking place in the economy? You can easily see that understanding the why is quite critical to making the right decision, the first time. If you have read many of my articles at all, you know there is more excellent news: we can take this simple principle so much further . . .
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles
Think about any situation where you are not seeing the results you would like. Maybe you’re working to lose weight, but without success. Why? You’ve tried to improve your diet, but still find yourself at the drive-thru on that busy Tuesday. Why? Are you consistently under a lot of stress? What is the driving force? After recognizing an area, any area, you’d like to improve, think about why you haven’t realized resounding success. It’s the first step toward creating a way out. I think it’s awesome to focus on the positive . . . things that work . . . that are going well. However, one of the absolute greatest opportunities I saw during my time in Corporate America was a willingness to identify & address the barriers, the things that weren’t working & their driving forces, head on. Hopefully in our personal lives, we have a bit less red tape to navigate. We have the power. We can take those things that aren’t working (whether it be our health, relationships, our career, time with our kids . . . anything), pinpoint why they aren’t working, and move forward with optimism, liberation, and most importantly, a smart plan on how to address the issue.
After leaving my corporate gig & welcoming my baby girl, I felt horribly inefficient with my day. It seemed like 8pm would roll around, and I had accomplished zilch. So, I took a step back & asked myself why. Why am I accomplishing so little? I realized a few things. Number one, I needed to cut myself some slack. Often, I would sleep in after being up several times during the night with my baby. Also, I realized I was never able to focus on any one task for long, as she often needed frequent attention. Now, sleep and taking care of my girl are chief priorities. I didn’t want to change anything there. It was unrealistic to compare my time-management practices as a new mom to my former, single & free as a bird self. However, I also realized that often I would get sucked into the morning news shows & would end up watching far more than intended. I’d turn on the Today Show while having breakfast, and suddenly an hour would vanish. I now had a clear path forward . . . I needed to set more realistic goals for my day . . . and keep the TV off. Had I failed to double-click on the issue and identify why I was struggling, I likely would have drove myself into the ground trying to do everything after bedtime, which is the initial path I started on. Asking why has step-changed my day for the better. Yes!
Here’s your challenge for the week: the next time you find yourself frustrated at a particular situation, ask yourself why. Then, be empowered having a solid handle on a path forward, eliminating that frustration from your days, and stepping closer to a life where strife is replaced with joy.
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