May 20

Questioning The Why


question-the-why-memeCuriosity may well have killed the cat; but just as a cat has nine lives, in business we have to be prepared to reincarnate and envision new life. 

The only way to do that is by constantly being curious – and questioning the why.

My nine year old daughter is in the middle of prepping a speech for school on ‘Why Kids Make A Difference’. One of the key points she has shared is that kids have new minds; minds that are deeply curious, and as a result they ask lots of questions. She argues that kids shouldn’t listen to the adult statement of ‘stop asking so many questions’. Instead, they should encourage each other to be even more curious, to question what is not understood and undiscovered, because this is how new information is revealed; and neighbourhoods, and maybe even the world, can be changed.

As I was listening to her rehearse last night, it started me thinking about how as adults we need to tap into the amazing curious mindset that kids maintain on a twenty-four hour basis (sometimes admittedly to our gritted teeth exhaustion). I thought about the phenomenal ability they have to imagine not what is, but what could be. They have a wonderful concentration on the limitless horizon of the endless journey – and with this, the ability to create and recreate new paths and new outcomes. Even the words ‘once upon a time’ mean that they are changing the way the world is operating – because in that statement lies a chance to make a different story, and change what was, to what might be.

They question the status quo, and in doing so, open up opportunities and dreams. Questions are innately the way to open the doors to change.

The question (if you will excuse the pun) I put to you is:

Are you curious enough to question the why?

Questioning the why, the who, the what, the where and the when means bringing a catalyst about. It will alter your outcomes; it will immediately make you an innovator, an inventor and an explorer. It will bring possibilities that before may have seemed like impossibilities. Don’t assume there is no alternative simply because the obvious road ahead seems blocked. Question. Be curious. Look at the why. Because if you want anything to change, you have to seek out the detour and navigate a new direction. It is not going to appear on a Google map in front of your brain.

You have to question the why to understand a situation as it stands, and to know how to improve the present for the betterment of the future. Driving change, breaking open the status quo, requires ongoing exploration of what, who and where we could be – and active enquiry into all the options available. Without this questioning mind, doors to the future remain firmly slammed shut. The lens of opportunity is blurred. And thinking? Dull, contracted and stale.

When you question the why:

  • Ray Krock said ‘Why can’t I get a good hamburger at the side of the road?’ and MacDonald’s was born.
  • Kevin Synstrom and Mike Krieger couldn’t understand why there was no ability to share images on smartphones… and Instagram was created.
  • Jodie Fox wanted to know why, if men could get customised suits from Asia, women couldn’t get their own shoe designs in the same way. With business partners Michael Fox and Mike Knapp she created Shoes Of Prey to provide just that service, and they are now expanding internationally.

If there is one thing that doesn’t need to be questioned, it is this. Highly successful individuals do not become that way by idling in the status quo carpark of life, waiting for progress and profits to come to them.

‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’

It’s time to start thinking and understanding with childish excitement and wonder and enthusiasm again.

And it all starts with a question.





Business Acumen, Curiosity, Innovative Thinking, Janine Garner, Leadership, Questioning

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