Understanding the 3 Forces of Why


Success coach and emotional resilience expert, Suzanne Dudley-Schon shares her brilliance in this week’s Upside Thought.

Suzanne understands that the beingness of leadership matters more than the doingness of leadership. 

You can take all of the tactical leadership actions that generate success and not be a leader worth following.

This week, she’s written about examining what matters most and why – one of my favorite topics!  

Happy Reading!

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The intention and force in asking “Why” can produce very different results and each holds value.

1)      Why as operating system for a person or business.

In the realm of coaching and self-help work, “your personal why” or your business mission “why,” is well understood as a core motivator. When it’s out of alignment with someone’s true principles, it’s like getting directions from the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz or being the scarecrow. Beyond the personal, businesses can flounder if the “why” isn’t clearly defined to function as a unifying system.

When your “why” motivator is aligned with your values, it sources your energy, focuses your action, and helps you stay on point with your bigger objectives and goals. It’s a prime element of self-empowerment.

2)     Why of emotion.

When we ask “why?” from an emotional state such as frustration, anger, upset, resentment—it’s often generated from an inner complaint. It can crop up if we’ve encountered something we don’t like, don’t understand, or find unpleasant. It’s reactive in nature and can be infused with a sense of powerlessness. The internal monologue may sound like: “Things shouldn’t be this way. It’s not what I want, it doesn’t feel good, it’s not fair, and I can’t do anything about it.”

Sound familiar? For me it’s my internal self in a fit of pique, stamping my foot on the verge of a meltdown, like a toddler desperate for an ice cream cone when I’ve been told it’s time for a nap.

While this “why” brings forth emotional honesty about how something feels, it’s highly subjective and doesn’t necessarily give an accurate assessment of the actual situation. In the search for truth—there may be countless “emotional truths”.

This why, however, can teach us about ourselves. With reflection we can discover how we respond to pressures or dynamics. We can see and investigate our “buttons/triggers”, notice our behavior, and ask ourselves powerful questions. Why are we upset? Is there something of value to be understood about ourselves or others? Is there something constructive to do? While external, objective answers aren’t necessarily found, there is often valuable, personal insight gained.

3)     Why of genuine curiosity.

The why of curiosity is driven by an open mind. Detached from heightened emotions, it tends to be objective and focused on data and a sense of impartiality. The answers to this why bring us to the observable and factual that is generally common to all perspectives. This kind of neutral inquiry provides information from which to make tactical and strategic decisions.

What I find interesting is how each force of why can serve us. It’s a matter of awareness, election, and implementation.

To make decisions it’s best to consider all the why forces influencing us. What is most relevant to the situation. For example, is it a moment to respond more from our hearts and feelings? Or is it an occasion that requires our logical mind? Or a call of our higher purpose? Or a custom blend?

We function best when we are integrated and whole. When making choices from our whole, aware selves, there’s less chance for a tail of regret to follow—that becomes a tale of regret. By slowing down to notice the forces of why, the drivers at play, we equip ourselves well.

ACTION: The Upside Challenge of the week is to take extra time when deciding.

Notice what “why” is at the helm of your choice.

Is it the one aligned with your values?

Is it reactive and full of feelings?

Or objective? To quote the Star Wars movies, “Use the force for good.” 

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