Whenever you set out to do something or make a life choice if you’re like most people you have a reason for what you are doing or the choice you’re making. A reason that answers the question, “why?”
Even if you don’t have an obvious reason for what you do or a choice you make, there’s still a reason.
How we answer that question is important. For example:
Some bad answers to, “why”?
“…because it’s the way it’s always been done”
In a few cases, you can maybe get a way with this answer if the way it’s always been done is good and successful. But eventually the way it’s always been done becomes a hindrance to actually getting things done or moving forward. Remember, “the way it’s always been done” is a method not a value or message.
A method answers the question, “how?” How you do something does not describe why you’re doing it. There are many different ways of selling a product. There are many different ways of driving a car. There are multiple ways of wooing someone. There are different methods of sharing about what you believe. HOWEVER, all these methods don’t describe the value you are choosing or the message you’re communicating. One caveat. Methods are often influenced by the value or the message (in other words choosing to share about Jesus with people while pole-dancing really isn’t the best method for sharing the gospel of Christ…) and methods may demonstrate a value or message but in of itself the method doesn’t answer, “why?”
So, “…the way it’s always been done” is a bad answer for why you do something or make a certain choice. What you’re really doing is defaulting. When you default then usually it means you really don’t know the answer to why? If I get this answer from people my next question would be, “Why are you doing it because it’s the way it’s always been done or why are you choosing that because that’s what always been chosen?”
(we’ll continue this series with the next post exploring another bad answer… “because ‘so-and-so’ is doing it” – The “Why?” picture was taken by “annnna“)
The first “bad” answer to the question, “Why are you doing what your doing OR why did you make that choice OR why are you going to do what you are doing?” was “because that’s the way it’s always been done”. The next is:
…because “so-and-so” is doing it (or does it that way).
And you can fill “so-and-so” with whatever fits be it a person or organization. The problem with this answer is just because so-and-so does it that way doesn’t mean it’ll work for you in your situation. Here’s some reasons why:
- so-and-so is usually always in a different context than you. What may work in their context may not work in your context.
- so-and-so who was successful had a reason why they were successful because they answered the “Why?” question rightly. Trying to shortcut the process by copying will leave you hanging when so-and-so fails (if what they did just happens to work in your context)
- you (or you’re organization) are not s0-and-so – what works for them may not work for you.
Of course, I’m not saying that you can’t learn from so-and-so! Just make sure that isn’t the reason WHY you are doing what you are doing (or making the choice you’re making). If that’s you’re reason then really you’re just shifting the question – now you have to ask, “Why is so-and-so doing it that way?”
In the last two posts in this series we’ve looked at some not-so-good ways to answer the question WHY you are doing something or making a particular choice. For the next two posts I’m just going to quickly look at a couple good ways to answer this question.
The first is probably fairly obvious. You should be able to answer the question WHY with a clear defined (and as simple as possible) purpose. Not because it’s the way it’s always been done, or not because so-and-so is doing it but because in doing so I’m accomplishing or fulfilling a particular purpose. Here’s the thing, everything is done for a purpose but more is accomplished when you can articulate it.
Not only that, but when you can articulate the purpose that answers WHY – then when you complete what you are doing or carry through on your decision there’s a greater sense of fulfillment because what you did or decided had purpose.
I remember when I was a young boy and my parents made me practice the piano. I hated it. I like playing the piano, I just hated doing scales and all that “practice music”. My answer for why I practiced was because my parents made me – in my eyes there was no purpose. My parents did everything they could to show me that there was purpose to the grind – the practice would enable me to play better and eventually play music that was incredible. Eventually I was able to understand and articulate that purpose for myself – and when I did, practicing the piano became much more fulfilling. There was purpose for the practice all along – I just hadn’t articulated (or understood) it yet.
I wonder how many people can give a purpose for WHY they are doing what they do or choosing how they choose?
This is the final post in the series “Why? An Important Question”
In the last post we looked at the first good answer for the question why? …because there’s purpose. However, another good way to answer that question is because of vision.
Purpose deals with the task at hand, vision is seeing the whole picture. When you answer the “why” with purpose you are articulating what you want to accomplish immediately. Vision produces purpose. When you answer the “why” with vision, you are articulating what you are aiming for – what you are doing may not even seem to be connected but for the person with vision it is.
As I write this a classic scene comes to mind from the movie Karate Kid where Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita) has told Daniel (played by Ralph Macchio) that he will teach him karate. However, Daniel is given a series of seemingly meaningless tasks which includes among them the famous “wax on, wax off” line as Miyagi has Daniel wax his car. To Daniel, the answer to “why?” he’s doing this seems meaningless, but Mr. Miyagi sees the whole picture and knows that in order to teach Daniel karate he has to teach him patience and good form. So to Mr. Miyagi, why “wax on, wax off” is answered by vision.
Proverbs 29:18 says,
Where there is no vision, the people perish… (KJV)
People perish without vision because they aren’t able to answer, why?