This morning I woke up questioning why some people are successful at developing a life on their terms, not those set out by others. It was a result of a couple of movies I watched over the weekend and then a subsequent conversation. It’s an excellent question and one I will likely delve into more deeply, but not today. As it turns out, “why” became the focus of my day. It is a word of great power and one I am trying to cultivate more often. This one word is a source of infinite opportunity for knowledge, and a starting point to getting you from here to there.
I read a great quote last week, attributed to Thomas Edison “ Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” That may seem harsh. But, in my experience, the most interesting people are those who keep challenging their understanding of the world and of themselves. The people in fact, who keep asking why and pushing the boundaries of their knowledge.
The first question has to be “why”
I started the post today thinking I would write about people who overcome obstacles to create the lives they want. While doing so I realized it wasn’t coming together. The obvious question is why. Asking is important, because sometimes a simple re-read and re-focus gets me back on track. Sometimes it doesn’t and today it was a definite no go. So then, why? Several reasons. The first is it felt as if it was too deep a topic for one little blog post. Then it felt needlessly serious and possibly even boring. I know for myself, that the books and posts I want to read capture more of a story and grab your interest. When I write I want to create a similar experience. The morning’s writing wasn’t there yet.
Where does this leave a writer when it isn’t coming together? It’s a little bit of that restlessness that Edison spoke of. When it isn’t working you do something else. Housework, groceries, and yes, the bookstore. And then…serendipity, fate, chance stepped in to help. I was browsing through some books and one that had been stacked haphazardly fell to the floor. I picked it up to return it and there on the shelf was a book I had not heard of but instantly wanted to read. It is called “The Power of Why” by Amanda Lang. Perfect.
Of course the book isn’t likely to answer the question that began my day, but it certainly will take me into the reasons curiosity is so important. I already know it is, but I love reading more about a subject. Curiosity is not just a benefit to writers or scientists but to every person as well as organizations and business. Like creativity, Lang argues that curiosity and its many benefits are available to us all, not just a select few. However, it needs nurturing and encouragement. More often it is ignored or responded to abruptly with a reply such as “that’s the way it is”. People are quick learners and will quit asking.
The benefits of asking “why”
Think for a moment about the consequences to our lives, communities, workplaces and yes countries if we allow this to happen. Asking why with a sincere desire to understand allows us to take responsibility rather than shrugging our shoulders and walking away. It can open conversations, help us explore new ideas and get us thinking about new ways to tackle challenges or live our lives.
“Why” began my journey into transforming my life from one that was constrictive and limiting to one that now holds promise and possibility. The restlessness Edison speaks of brought me to the question, the question to reflection and from reflection to action. Each of us has so much more inside of us, intellectually, physically and spiritually. It begins with a willingness to ask the question followed by taking the necessary actions to fulfill the answer.
Have you used this powerhouse word lately? If so, how? I would be interested to know your question and even more interested in what you found. Please leave a comment below and share some of your journey with us.