Why? Why? Why?

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXII, Number 27 (Issue 1083) July 1, 2024

Why? Why? Why?

If you have spent time in the company of a small child, you have undoubtedly been confronted with a string of “why?” questions. Probably more than once. It is one of the great ways a child learns, demonstrating in the process an innate gift for second and third level thinking. It can be amusing at first – at least until one runs out of answers or patience. Whatever abrupt ending we may choose, we ultimately put a halt to that string of questions with one of two classic responses: “because I said so” or “go ask your mom/dad.”

We all know the first response, “because I said so,” is a non-starter today although one still sometimes hears “because we’ve always done it that way.” Conversely, the second response, “go ask…” really is not that much of a copout. None of us can lay claim to all the answers. Thus, either directing that inquiring mind to someone who can answer their question, or stating, “I do not know the answer, but I will find out,” is the right thing to do. In brief, wanting to know “why?” is universal. Those in leadership roles would do well to remember that when they are advocating for change.

As for the string of “whys?” that reveal an aptitude for second and third level thinking – we should all be so inclined. Being able to contemplate potential responses, outcomes, and consequences beyond the initial move is invaluable. It is a trait we find in those who think strategically. But even those blessed with such abilities may not always consider the full gamut of what might lie ahead – especially when other players (competitors with their own goals) are involved. To allow for this it usually helps to include others on your team in the formulation, planning, and implementation phases since not everyone is apt to see things from the same perspective.

For example, the other day I was in a board meeting where we heard presentations from various members of the board relating to their subject matter expertise. In one of those presentations the materials addressed recent changes in the competitive landscape. A question was put to the group about future moves the organization might take in response to the eight-fold growth in competitors. As the board was wrestling with what amounted to an up or down vote on a course of action, one board member introduced a different point of view. In an instant the board realized they had been thinking about the solution in one dimension while this contrarian (second level) view suggested a different course of action. Within a few minutes the entire board swung around to this alternative train of thought.

As I have stated more times than I care to count, there is no monopoly on good ideas. Little is as dangerous as a mind closed to other possibilities. Yet a resume laden with career successes (the major force behind the “success paradox”) can lead us to believe we have all the right answers.

Soli Deo Gloria

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15

J. Keith Hughey

Mobile: (210)260-0955

E-mail: keith@jkeithhughey.com

Website: www.jkeithhughey.com

Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance

Copyright 2024 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Recent issues of Musings may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com.  Your comments are always welcome.

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Why? Why? Why?

Volume XXII, Number 27 (Issue 1083) July 1, 2024 Why? Why? Why? If you have spent time in the company of a small child, you

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