Something was amiss.
One Sunday, my family visited one of our frequented restaurants. At 4 PM, we were the only ones at that odd hour. The hostess, also the owner of the restaurant, led us to our seats. My wife and I sensed that she was not in her elements. Pensive would be an apt word.
All through my time at the table eating tiffin (light meal), I was wondering — did we do something wrong during our previous trips? She was at the other end of the room. Seated at one of the open tables near the counter, she was rolling up the silverware.
I did something impromptu. Not waiting for my check, I went to the counter to pay. During our chitchat, she shared that a close family member had passed away. Her husband was attending to the last rites on the other side of the world.
All through my time around her that day, the universe implicitly centered around me and how I may be the root cause. And I had misread her stoicism that bore her loss. I felt doubly bad.
When a prospect slams the door on a sales person, when a normally docile colleague yells at you, the first reaction is centered around the wrong why — revolving around us.
Maybe they did not mean to hurt, they themselves were hurting.
Rejection, in any shape or form, is anathema. How well we address the why in the emotional moment may hold the secret keys. It may be the biggest why that matters.
I have a preponderance to dissect for root causes. Or so I thought. In my moment of reckoning, my objective hat of reason was nowhere near. And I did not even realize that I was missing it! My emotional triggers held sway.
That wrong why was an awakening, aha moment.
It provoked something inside me — dormant thoughts about why — from sun’s movement to my younger daughter’s charisma. Hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed writing it — seemingly disjointed quilt patterns and yet forever stitched together by our why. What I learned when this thought occured — “why didn’t I think of that?”
1. Why and Logic
The every movement of the sun gives me chills. For my naïve mind, it seems the sun goes around us. Just like the wrong why at the restaurant.
Somewhere, someone, [a vital few?] posed a different why. Copernicus solved it. A counter intuitive reality was born in our consciousness.
2. Why and Careers
In my opinion, one of the best career quotes — from the one and only Zig Ziglar that showcases the why better than any I have seen.
“Why didn’t I think of that?” is when I remembered to write it down.
3. Why and Leadership
Office holiday parties provide memories. A friend shared this with great relish — he was seated at his table at the office party, the CEO came by to shake hands. My friend in holiday jest commented about a pin the CEO was wearing. The CEO quietly removed the pin and pinned it on my friend’s shirt. And patted him on his back. Not a word was spoken.
Acts like these help you build rapport. A genuine interest in other person’s personal side can make you endearing. A share of the why — brings them into the inner circle of trust. You do that by giving first — that takes courage. And courage gets noticed.
Two of the popular books from motivational speaker, Simon Sinek have one word in common — Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t; Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
You may know why.
4. Why and Timing
Initially, I was so sold on the concept of why, I went out of the way to explain the why. Not everyone was interested — obviously. Priorities differ. Or so I thought. Eventually, I learned it was something subtler — timing.
I am still the eager teacher to share with my then 8 year old daughter the why behind multiplication. I hold back.
When she has a series of threes written one below the other (nine of them to be exact), she adds them with gusto. When she burrows along with a set of nine identical six, “a shortcut would be nice” may germinate in her head.
At that moment, the “why” of multiplication sounds like a lovely introduction.
5. Why and Parenting Chuckle
You can make a fantastic living with “why.” Ask my 5 year old daughter. “No” is one of her *least* frequent words for a few years now.
The observer I am, I was puzzled. Anytime she is not in congruence with me, the only word out of her mouth, in a low tone, sing song voice — “why?”
Without realizing it, I introspect, searching deeper. I even go on a defensive — oblivious to what precipitated the moment.
Sitting back, thinking about it, I chuckle every time. I loved the way my daughter muted difficult conversations.
I have been using her approach for a while now at work — to great effect. When you feel like answering with a no — an earnest why, works wonders- many times.
I found it consummately practical. And I was ok that it was not my idea.
I simply like to observe and if lucky — learn.