Great Questions Lead to Better Outcomes

Ask “What?” Instead of “Why” to Keep Moving Forward

Disclaimer: This article addresses health and well-being. If you or someone you know needs help there are resources available at the end of this article. The information written here is not intended to diagnose or treat.

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

The professional world of sports is a case study of what it means to be fully committed to winning no matter what. To prepare for writing this, I did some research to find out how many athletes came out of retirement to seek a championship title they never won. The answer to that is more than I can list here. I can say that some of them were successful and were able to come back bigger and better. Some of them wished they had stayed in retirement because they left the game with bigger regrets the second time around. With those regrets, even the fans may have asked along with them the biggest question of all, “Why?”

Why is such a loaded question

In the everyday workplace, offices, and schools, there is not a competition that is viewed on national tv in the same way as athletes. Nevertheless, there is a competition. The competition is for awards, rewards, promotions, resources, accolades, and oftentimes a simple thank you for a job well done. From personal experience and conversation with the frontline, it is not uncommon for workers to feel overlooked and underappreciated. This leaves people asking, “Why?” I find it ironic that two groups at very two different levels of financial status and societal acclaim are both in a similar situation.

Change the question

First things first. I’m not against asking why. That is typically where I start and would guess that many of us start there. The case that I am making here is for the next question to be what. To make this crystal clear it is probably best if I give an example of an internal dialogue that could happen.

“I don’t like my job”

“why”

“I don’t get along with my boss and co-workers”

“They are irritating.”

“why”

See how this could go on and on forever.

“I don’t like my job”

“why”

“I don’t get along with my boss and co-workers”

“They are irritating.”

“What can I do that will improve the situation?”

When frustration sets in, it can be difficult to see our way out. Asking ourselves what instead of why interrupts the pattern of thinking that reinforces the story that there is no way out or no way to be joyful in the current situation.

Make a Plan

There is more than one way to move forward when you are frustrated. One strategy that sums up all of them for me is borrowed from an expert and thought leader I highly respect, Cy Wakeman. A mantra that she often shares is, “stay in joy or leave in peace, there is no third option”. If you want to check out what Cy has to say about it you can take a listen.

The gist of the message is the only person that you have complete and utter control over how they respond and behave is yourself. People and events are going to happen, yet how with manage our emotions is something we can continue to work on. There are choices to be made when it comes to our emotions.

Mindtools offers some great tips and insights. The advice ranges from simple things like smiling to writing down your emotions to identify triggers. Both of these examples are active and move us from passive bystanders to active participants in moving forward.

To break down these two recommendations more, smiling has been shown to lead to a longer and better life. Journaling, on the other hand, may take more effort depending on your personality, style, and level of motivation. Experts state that journaling helps you work through barriers more effectively and reach your goals

When You Have More Questions Than Answers

At the end of the day, there are a lot of pressures and stress that can pull you in many different directions. Shifting your mindset is a great place to start. If you find that your circumstances are more complex or you have been there done that then I encourage you to plan in that direction.

You do not have to do this alone. If you find that you need additional resources and a DIY article is not getting to the heart of the issue. Talk to someone. Confide in a friend, colleague, or family member. There are also free resources. One thing is for certain, I implore you to reach out.

National Suicide Hotline

1-800–273–8255

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Kim Regis

Kim is a certified coach and leader with over 20 years of experience. Her passion is leading others toward unlocking their full potential.