My four year old is at what I call the “why” stage. When being told something, he invariably asks “why”. This happens even when we have taken the time to clearly explain something to him. Interestingly, I find myself almost anticipating his question before he even asks it. Take for instance a recent trip through the car wash. My four year old wondered almost predictably, why we were at the car wash? Why did the car needed washed? Why the water is so loud?
Like most parents I have patience for his questions, even when he asks the same question repeatedly. Now contrast our reaction against our response to being asked the question of “why” repeatedly by our employees, peers or superiors. Our patience tends to wain. By nature we tend to become defensive when asked the question “why.” This is because we interpret the question why as a challenge to our decisions, opinions or ideas. This is not a productive mindset.
To be effective as a leader we must consistently ask ourselves and others “why”. The power of “why” helps to challenge mediocrity, it helps us and others to learn and understand and most importantly it forces us to consider other viewpoints.
So consider how you can begin to integrate the question “why” into your dialogue. It is through this simple question that you will gain new perspectives, challenging both yourself and others to be discontent with the status quo.
© Shawn Casemore 2013. All rights reserved.