Over the weekend, my kids had some friends over for a sleep over.
It's fascinating listening to the conversations that little people have with their friends.
As I flipped pancakes, the six of them started to talk about the five W’s and H (who, what, when, where, why and how) – they must be learning it at school.
So I decided to run a little social experiment and asked them, “But what's the most important out of the 5 W’s and H?”
Then out of the mouth of a seven year old, she said, “The why of course!” Like I was from another planet to not have known the answer to this.
“If you don’t know why you do something, nothing else matters,” she said.
The other five kids nodded in agreement (ranging from seven to ten years).
Why then, do so many adults struggle with knowing their why? What happens between seven and adult hood?
Quite simply, our curiosity gets squashed.
As adults living in this fast paced world, with many distractions, subconsciously we find the “But why” question annoying (we all do at some point particularly when it is so repetitive in kids).
So eventually, after being unsatisfied with the answers we give (somewhat dismissed) or completely dismissed, THEY JUST STOP ASKING WHY?
And then they grow up thinking why mustn’t be that important until they become dissatisfied with life or work or unsure what their purpose is. Sometimes this might equate to a mid-life crisis.
So here we are, a multi-million learning and development industry teaching people (including me) on how to know your why when it has always been in us.
My challenge to you is this:
Whether you are a parent, a friend of a parent, grandparent, aunty, uncle (you get the gist), when a child asks you why, do your best to stop what you are doing and answer them.
If you don’t know the answer, that is ok, but don’t ignore or dismiss the question. Rather say, “I’m actually not sure. But why don’t we do some research and find out together.”
As a leader, I’ve always done this with my team. I don’t have all the answers (I love a bit of Dr. Google) and I am just as curious as my daughters’ seven-year-old friend. I want to know why…and in many cases…why not!
Join me in creating a better workforce for the future, instilling curiosity (you don’t need to read a book on it, this is all you need to do).
Start asking why, answer the million questions kids ask (you might just have your own epiphany doing this) and encourage your team today to start asking WHY!
This article is dedicated to my daughters’ best friend, Priya.