A few days ago, a friend shared a WhatsApp status where she wrote that she needed some motivation to get back to proper dieting. According to her, she’s been eating all sorts of things in the past 10 days, so she’s begun regaining the weight she lost through exercise and proper dieting.
At first, I wanted to tell her how gorgeous she’ll look in that beautiful dress in her wardrobe, or how healthy she’ll feel when she attains her desired weight or how her self-confidence will be over the roof when she’s disciplined with her diet.
Many answers just flew through my mind because I indeed wanted to motivate her to get back on track. But on second thought, I told myself to ask her a question instead of throwing answers at her. I decided to ask her a simple but profound question “why are you on a diet in the first place?”
The Five Whys in Problem-solving
The five whys is a strategy or a method that entrepreneurs and corporate business executives use to get to the core of issues. It’s a recursive, sequential technique where you still go a step farther to ask why at each answer. Basically, when there are problems, asking the why question helps to discover the root cause of the problem so you can solve it; basically,
This method is mostly used for problem-solving, troubleshooting or for improvement analysis. For instance, if you had a bad customer review, you gathered your team to know why that happened. The answer could be that your product was of poor quality. But you don’t stop, instead, you ask another why. And the answer could be that poor raw materials were used during the manufacturing process. You go a step further and ask why again. As you do this, you’ll eventually get to the root cause of the poor review you had, and then devise means to solve it.
The Five Whys in Purpose Discovery
While the above strategy is valid and should be applied by anyone in a leadership role, I also think we can deploy it in a different way, where the why questions come at the beginning of a venture instead of at the end.
If you’ve ever taken a major decision (everyone at some point has), especially after a series of prolonged considerations, you’ll agree with me that before arriving at the final “yes, I’m doing this,” you pondered on reasons why that may be a bad decision. But you also had other reasons why it is a good decision. And evidently, the pro reasons outweighed the contro.
Asking yourself why you want to do a thing isn’t just about self-awareness, it helps you ram up several reasons that would keep you standing when all around you gives way, or when the expected results aren’t showing up. It helps you discover the core purpose for that step you’re about to take. So, the Five Whys strategy can be used to discover our purpose for taking major decisions.
Let’s say you have something essential you want to do: you want to start a business, you want to study a course, you want to lose weight, you want to vie for a political position, you want to get married etc. Instead of just using this method tomorrow to know the root cause of a problem that developed along the way, you can use it to get to the core reason behind the decisions you are about to take now.
So, I want you to apply the Five Whys Method to your personal life. Ask yourself why you want to take that major step. Ask yourself another why. And another and on and on. Be honest about your answers and you’ll be able to get to the core reason that’s motivating you.
Spend a few minutes to write down both the core reason and the other reasons that are pushing you to embark on that project. For instance, write down the reasons you want to lose weight; why you want to pursue a career in that field; why you want to become a gospel minister, an entrepreneur, a teacher, or a philanthropist. Write down the purpose behind your desire to write a book; why you want to become a scientist, a public speaker, or a politician, and why you want to get into a marital relationship with him or her.
Did you notice anything? On that paper are the true reasons behind those desires you want to pursue.
I want you to keep these reasons with you as you embark on that worthwhile journey; they’ll help you tomorrow when the going gets tough and you’re discouraged.
All the best from your favourite Heart Mender.