Why?: Because.

     "Why" is for me the most underused and incorrectly answered question of the standards (who, what, where, when, how).  It started in early childhood or adolescence for most of us when we asked why and were told by parents "Because I said so," or just "because."   Which then of course inhibits understanding and growth of the young learner and leaves the older giver frustrated as well (why can't they just do what I say?).  Eventually if not corrected along the emotional and intellectual development this leads us to do the same with our children, and it still occurs in much of our organizational lives as well.

     The core truth is that there really is a reason why, but we're uncomfortable discussing it, or are too busy to want to invest in fully explaining because it's not on the agenda or today's task list. That's the beginning of relationship fractures, a diminishing of trust, and a detrimental increase of dissatisfaction, rebelliousness, stress or anger.  Can you not find in your short term memory an example of such behavior from someone you know or even yourself?  Honestly?

     I know I push Daniel Pink, Howard Gardner, and Peter Drucker in particular as well as some others too much, but Lord we humans need to understand each other and learn how to communicate better. Gary Hamel has just been added to that list.  I was too busy between 2004-2008 trying to survive the economic downturn and reading too many other books to count during my research and reinvention from 2008-2012 to pay attention to Hamel then.  He was in town to speak recently, and I couldn't attend, but his latest book What Matters Now arrived yesterday and just the preface was enough to make me read part of it to my graduate students last night.  Thank you for your passions and gifts Gary (and Dan, Howard and Peter).

     Whether we're talking internally in who we are at our core, within our families, and most definitely within the majority of our organizations in America, Why is the question that must be answered fully.  It also needs to be asked often.
  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. Why does it make a difference? To me as an individual, to us as a team, to our organization, our clients, vendors and community?
  3. Why does it add value?
  4. Why are we doing it this way, instead of differently?
  5. Why should I care, or you care, or anyone care?
    That may not be the right order or even the right questions.  But I do know that the course of human events over the past 20 years and longer have led to increases in asset gaps, poverty, starvation, bigotry, ethnic cleansing (which has existed since different theologies/philosophies and the grass is greener in your neighborhood attitudes in humans have), global economic crisis and war.

     Before you start thinking I'm a pessimist, I'm not, as any of the posts this past month should demonstrate.  I have hope for the future of the life on this planet, but that's based on a belief in God with an understanding of what I can control, what I can't and finding opportunities to serve and grow in even the darkest moments.  I'm not sure how others overcome the way some humans treat each other and abuse resources without a strong faith. Maybe, they just look the other way.

   I can also close my eyes, and in my small community and circle of influence and mentors count hundreds of people who daily devote themselves, regardless of the organization, to making their family, their work, their community, state, country and this planet a brighter and better place to exist.  Multiply that around the planet and there are millions of us within every minute of the day making a positive difference, rather than living for self alone.

    Why more of us don't live lives of purpose, hope, adaptability and positive change is the real question.  It is so much more rewarding than stepping on someone else to get that quarterly bonus.

    So the next time you have the urge to even use the word because . . . don't.  Take the time to explain.  As much time as the hearer needs.  If someone says it to you, all you can do is ask them to help you understand a little more. You have no control over their behavior, attitude or action anyway.

     As I said to an associate after we volunteered time on a Saturday helping eager entrepreneurs with ideas but missing process and mentors, when she expressed doubt I would be happy with a relatively small turnout:  "If you've helped one person to understand, adapt and change, you've changed the world."  And not just from Margaret Meade having said so.  Some truths are eternal.
   Now if I can just find something I'm passionate about.

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