Why ask why?

This insistent question will pop up when you’re learning a new process or there’s some kind of change at work. I thought it would be nice to know the reason behind the work I was doing. When I was told why I had to press the buttons a certain way – that was it. There wasn’t a light bulb going off, no extra motivation, and no stronger purpose to keep working. All I understood is why the company wanted things done a certain way. The answer to “Why?” had only reasserted the intention of what I was already doing.

If you asked why and got your explanation, would it change anything in your process? It’s almost as if the question is rhetorical. Hearing the same tune over and over but with different words. When you’re told to obey a weird policy or do extra work that doesn’t make a lot of sense, we want to question it. “Why are the changes happening?” When we are defensive about a change there are several events that can happen, usually in this order:

  1. You deny the change. This is an impromptu stage filled with reaction and follows with lots of questions, like asking why.
  2. You resist the change. Doing this creates immobilization and can make you feel stuck, even if you’re being sarcastic about it.
  3. You explore the change. This is when you start to connect the dots and discover new possibilities.
  4. You accept the change. This can come with an empty feeling like you’ve been defeated. But what it really means is commitment and responsibility.

Whether you accept it or not, there are going to be some weird changes in the company that will affect you. Unless you’re calling the shots for your own business you can expect to follow someone else’s proposal. If you’re already upset with the work you’re doing then you must find a way to adapt to it or to stop doing it all together. If you do a job badly enough you probably won’t get asked to do it again. That could be a miracle in disguise (being fired from a job you hate) or quicksand to keep you paralyzed (coachings, warnings, more coachings).

Once you get past the fact that you’ll have to adapt to change or quit the job (which is a change anyway), there are some reactions that you will experience. Emotional and behavioral reactions are the first ones up. You may feel anger, frustration, or even fear when you dive headfirst into a weird process. These emotional reactions can mesh and create distrust which would lead to behavioral reactions like power struggles and isolation. In many cases, these are the main reasons people quit their jobs.

Change isn’t always bad. Even if you believe the outcome to be unpleasant, you are capable of opening new doors of opportunity to explore where this change is leading you. Eventually, you won’t even care to know someone else’s opinion of why. You will adapt to this new version of your environment and the benefits present themselves. It’ll be you that has to decide when to see them.

There’s a quote in the movie Braveheart, King Edward Longshanks says, “As king, you must find the good in any situation.” He’s right. You have to find some benefit if your situation is unpleasant. Something, anything, is better than falling apart with those cube cries. You can be thankful that you possess information that many others do not. You can be thankful that the more times you’re exposed to that situation, the more you will adapt to it. Please be considerate of your feelings when it comes to your sanity. Don’t purposely twist your reactions to cause mental harm to yourself.

The harsh truth is that there will always be someone willing to sit in your chair and take the same lashings you do. They are willing to do this to experience a new whip or to just put a little money in their pocket. Consider your future job long down the road. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to secure it? I bet the person sitting in your future desk has concerns about why they’re still working there, just as you are now in your current role.

How > Why

The escape from why is to add your own personal style into what you do. Instead of asking someone else why ask, yourself how. This is the best way to find the good in your work.

Asking why is a form of resisting what you don’t want to do. You’ve already tried asking why and it doesn’t change anything that you’re already doing. If you ask how you turn your problem in a creative manner. It will turn your negative situation into a positive one. Two awesome things happen when you do this:

  • You will inspire yourself to be more creative
  • You move forward with resolving your issue

If you cannot be creative at work because it’s against the rules then you are being stubborn. Almost every company has some list of ‘core values’ they encourage everyone to work by. Being innovative or creative is definitely within the limits. You won’t be giving up your creative power to the company. The creative energy is coming into existence because of you. You are making that process better by enhancing it with your personal style. This is truly a creation of change made by you, not your job.

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