No matter what goal you are trying to accomplish when things get tough you are going to ask yourself Why?
If you don't have an answer ready you might just quit. But if you have done the introspection to find the real deep meaningful Why you can answer the question and keep pushing through.
Learn how to find the deeper Why here.
We all do things.
But sometimes it is not clear why we are doing them. Maybe we even think that we know why, but in reality it is the superficial reason.
We need to know the deeper why.
Because when you want to start something new, the deeper why will help you maintain the change, especially when things get difficult or hard.
Or when you want to stop doing something, but you just can’t. Often the reason that you keep relapsing is that you need to address the deeper causes. You don't just need more "willpower".
There is a great system for figuring out your deeper why. This system, called the 5 whys, was developed by Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the Toyoda Family Companies(1).
While you may not have heard of the Toyoda Family Companies you may be familiar with Toyoda Loom works, one of the companies. His son, Kiichiro Toyoda, later convinced the family to change that particular business from looms to automobiles(2).
He also changed the name, just slightly. In Japan 8 is a lucky number but the name “Toyoda is written with 10 brush strokes. If you remove of 2 brush strokes it changes the pronunciation to “Toyota”(3).
They trademarked the new word, and in August of 1937 the company was registered as the Toyota Motor Company(4).
The 5 Whys
The primary goal of the 5 Whys is to find a root cause, defect or problem by using the questions “why” 5 times.
Each answer is the basis of the next question, and the next question is always“why”?
Your car won’t start
From this we learn that the deeper problem is not a battery. The deeper problem is failing to have the car maintenance properly. If battery is replaced the car still won't even function. Once the alternator belt is replaced the car will function but a new problem is on the way. But if the root cause of regular maintenance is addressed many future car problems simply won't happen.
This is not only applicable to cars. This system can be applied to anything for example:
I want to lose weight
There is a ton of insight here.
We find that losing weight is not the entire picture. Its not just about looking better...
And feeling better...
And being more confident...
It is about all of those, and taking control of your life.
They are all important, but the last is critical.
Because if you try something that helps you lose weight, but you don’t look better and feel better and feel more confident and get what you want in life…
Then you have set yourself up for failure, and relapse.
If choose to lose weight by using a very restrictive diet, some bad things could happen.
You could feel worse because you are under eating. Then, because you are starving, you fall to the temptation of comfort food when you get stressed.
You could feel like you lost control of what you eat. After a short time you might quit. Because part of what you want out of life is to be able to enjoy food.
In both scenarios, you didn't stick to the diet. Because you quit, you will feel like you failed.
Failure is not good for your confidence.
Losing confidence can make you feel worse about yourself.
Then things can reverse, because you can use food to make yourself feel better(emotional eating), which is great in the (very) short term.
Until you gain more weight and can’t fit into your current clothes.
Which means it’s time to start another diet…and the cycle repeats.
Interestingly you can also fail by staying on the diet.
If you can follow a restrictive diet you start dropping pounds. Dropping pounds makes you feel better
You feel like you are in control, but you only feel better when you lose weight.
So you keep getting more restrictive, and more restrictive…
Until you have developed an eating disorder.
What we want to do is use your deeper Why to your advantage.
If you accept that what you really want is to look better, feel better, be more confident and enjoy life, you can find a plan that meets those goals. You can focus on making good decisions most of the time and occasionally indulging.
You can develop a lifestyle, one that balances body you want and your relationship with food. You can find the balance that is right for you, right now.
Why is 5 the “magic” number?
It isn’t. You could do this with six or seven or three or four.
Five just happens to be the number that experienced users of the system have found to be enough.
What is important is that the last answer points to the real issue.
In our car example it led to the deeper cause of not maintaining the car properly. Fix this, and you fixed the real issue.
It should be obvious that if you don’t do the required maintenance on your car (or you mechanic isn’t) then many other problems will (or may already have) manifested. By addressing the deeper cause we greatly improve multiple outcomes.
In our second example you are helping your conscious self learn about your unconscious self. We all have deep driving values, and they affect everything that we do in life. However many of us have never taken the time to explore what they are.
You need to take the time to get to know yourself.
Many people never do this, and thus end up sabotaging their success. If you try to change something using willpower and it contradicts your deeper values you are doomed to failure.
But if you know your deeper values, you can find the solutions that work for you.
It is easy for people new to this technique to get stuck after asking "why" two or three times.
While it is possible to reach the deeper cause in less than five whys, this is rarely the case.
If you get stuck after two or three "whys", it is possible that you are avoiding the hard thinking or deep introspection that will lead you to the next level.
It is a difficult exercise. Spend the time, do the work and you will reap the benefits.
Another pitfall is using this process to reach an “easy” answer. An answer that you have no control over and you use to justify giving up.
Some examples are “not enough time”, “not enough resource”,or “someone else's fault”
Let’s look at how this can happen in detail.
In this example they took a shortcut, when they needed to dig into the deeper reasons that their schedule is full. Let’s look at a fix
Now we have reached a real root cause, poor time management(5).
Instead of trying to “diet” this person first needs to make time for their health. We can see from their second "why" that for them it means saying no to other things.
Time management is a very common deeper cause that prevents people from maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise.
The 5 whys is an excellent system that everyone should use to get to know themselves or the locate the deeper causes of a failure.
While not as easy as it sounds, it leads to a ton of insight and information.
If you take the time to do this exercise, please let me know what you come up with!
You can leave it in the comments or send it to my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will take a look!