I love that word.
Why do I love it? Because that one word is like a railroad spike driven into a freshly hewn log of wood with a 20-lb sledgehammer. It’s an extremely powerful tool. Aligned properly with the grain, that spike can crack open even far more stubborn materials including stone.
Asking why helps you understand motive and causality, which then helps you sift between the genuine and superficial strains of what, or the how, etc. Why was X the key driver of the other party’s behavior and not Y? Why was fear the main motivator? What kind of fear? Fear of losing a simple match in a board game is quite different than the fear of losing your life savings on the stock market. Was it love? How passionate was this love? Some cultures around the world have dozens of word describing different types of love, ranging from a mild or passing interest, right up to a soul-consuming infatuation that engulfs a person’s existence completely. (Why do some cultures have such rich descriptions of the same emotion that all humans feel, yet other cultures don’t? Hmmm.)
Asking why helps you communicate more effectively, and connect on a much deeper level with the other party. Just like you can’t communicate verbally at all with someone who speaks a completely different language, you also can’t connect with another person until you understand the “why” behind their perspectives.
Asking “why” helps us evaluate what’s more worthy of our attention, time, or efforts. If you’ve ever wondered where your daily time is going, start by asking this simple word.
And most importantly, asking “why” helps you evaluate your biases, assumptions, knowledge, and more. It’s a great learning tool that flows both ways. Scientists and researchers use it all the time to push their work forward. Teachers use it to evaluate students’ ability to think critically. Engineers use it to better understand what is it that they have to design. Detectives use it to solve crimes. Diplomats use it to help understand other cultures and societal norms.
Let’s not forget that answering the question “why?” effectively is also a critical ingredient in helping manage others’ expectations of you, thereby helping to reduce (or even eliminate) friction and stress in your life, whether in social situations, at work, or at home.
All this brings us to the critical question: Why did I launch the Inspireant initiative here at Maverick & Blueberry?
The first reason: Throughout nearly 15 years working for corporate America, I was often asked what I might be doing if I wasn't in account management and business sales. My answer was always the same - I'd probably be a teacher in a high school somewhere, teaching kids and getting them ready (and motivated!) to tackle the life ahead of them, and to be responsible, productive members of the society around them.
One of my most favorite lessons in life - learned and taught - is the parable of feeding a man. You give him a fish, and you've fed him for a day. But you teach him how to fish, and you've fed him for life.
The strongest of common threads between these two careers of sales and teaching, is that of a constructive exchange of knowledge. Understanding the needs of the other before seeking to be understood. It doesn't matter whether it's a 17-year old student sitting at the table about to write a test, or a 47-year old vice president of a major company division about to sign on the dotted line.
In both cases, the actual reciprocated value was never anything tangible. (Money and salary? You can get that at every job.) For me specifically, it was always the expression on the other person's face when they understood the new idea, concept, or skill that I was demonstrating.
That "aha!" look on someone’s face when they just get it.
In each case, my heartfelt desire is the same - impart unto that human being something of value that will expand their horizon ever so slightly, something they can carry for the rest of their life, and perhaps even pass onto others.
A second reason is who I am by nature as well as by my (former) profession. I like lifting up those around me, plain and simple. Whatever has them feeling weighed down and blue, whether its relationships, job stress, physical or emotional turmoil ... I genuinely try my best to turn the situation around for people.
Do their troubles bother me in turn? Nope. Years and years of working in the corporate trenches have left me with pretty thick skin, I'll admit. The list of things that bother me is actually quite small.
My outlook on life in general has always stayed the same. Whatever the situation is ... I believe it's never as bad as it actually looks. I believe in the power of human ingenuity and stamina to turn lemons into lemonade. I'll roll up my sleeves and dig right in. Let's see how you're feeling, and why? Let's clear away the clouds and get you on a healthy emotional diet, let's see what's working and what isn't, and then lay out a map towards better outcomes.
One of my deep areas of interest is uncovering the secrets of how the human mind works. I believe in the idea of “mind over matter” and try to implement it in my daily life wherever possible.
As an example, when I’m working out, I’ve always noticed that if I actively think about doing just eight reps of whatever exercise I’m doing on the bench, then I start losing motivation by about the seventh rep in anticipation of completing the eight reps. But if I tell myself at the very beginning that I’m going to belt out a dozen solid reps, I power through eight and beyond without any problem at all.
The third reason is that I've always had a deep passion for design and visual appeal in all things since I was a child. Art, interiors, clothing, cars, you name it. I've lost track of how many times I got in trouble at school for (being obliviously absorbed in) drawing something when I should have been listening to the teacher. I'm the guy who will spot your unopened jacket vents at a wedding, from a mile away. Want to know why the interior design of one particular car appeals more to women than another? Curious about why you should paint your dining room this shade of one color, instead of that other hue? I'm the one who'll tell you why.
In fact, even now I can spend 15 hours a day working on and discussing art and visual design. Seven days a week.
I just don't get tired of it at all. If anything, it completely energizes me.
And since I was a child, as much as possible, I also tried to make sure the appeal of the design was as much about the visuals as it was about functionality and benefit.
When you mix all three ingredients together, you get the Inspireant initiative.
A project to uncover the secrets of human mind, about what makes us tick, about inspiring myself and motivating you to achieve better outcomes in life.
Join me as I regularly report back to you with original insights into mental motivation and emotional intelligence, exciting new research from leading names in the field, and more!
I welcome your curiosity and input as well, so don’t hesitate to ask questions or contribute to the discussion!
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