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Why Not Why?

Updated: Jun 28


“Why?” is a perfectly good question.

So: Why not “Why?”

Wait, I mean: What’s important about not asking “Why?”

Or, maybe I mean: For the sake of what do we not ask “Why?”


Or, perhaps I mean: What changes if we don’t ask “Why?”

On one level these are all just forms of “Why?” and so it might seem that these questions could lead to the same or very similar answers.

For example, say I want to write a book and someone is asking me about why:


What’s important about writing a book?

Well, I’d just really like to publish a book


For the sake of what do you want to write a book?

Well, I’d just really like to publish a book

What changes if you write a book?

Well, I’d just really like to publish a book


However, while the answer “Well, I’d just really like to publish a book” sits easily with the question “Why do you want to write a book?”, the answers above are a little unnatural, they don’t seem to flow from the question. So we immediately see that different questions are, unsurprisingly, likely to lead to different answers.


We might end up with:


What’s important about writing a book?

I’m a creative person and I feel like that part of me has been suppressed recently.

For the sake of what do you want to write a book?

I’ve got an important message I want to get out to the world.

What changes if you write and publish a book?

It would give me a great sense of confidence that when I put my mind to something I can see it through!


These seem, to me at least, to flow more naturally from the questions. All these questions search for an underlying why but in subtly different ways.


What’s important about writing a book?

This directs the person to think about what’s important to them, that is, their values.


For the sake of what do you want to write a book?

This has someone think more about the impact they want to have and/or their sense of purpose.

What changes if you write and publish a book?

This helps people reflect on how their sense of what’s possible can shift as a result of taking action.


For the next week, notice when you use “why” and see if one of the above questions will better serve you or the person you are talking to.


Especially if that person is you.


Jon


This article is part of 100 Days of Creation, my challenge to myself to write 100 articles in 140 days, each taking no longer than 30 minutes to write and publish.

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