My wife and I are blessed with a two-year-old. She is a tremendous joy to be around. We love to teach her how to live in this world, and every day we are amazed at what she has learned, often wondering where and how she picked something up. Of course, we also are fond of telling her how much easier her life will be if she would just listen to her parents.
On the flip side, the other day I realized there are many lessons I can learn from her, so this is the first in a series of articles on Lessons from a Two-Year-Old.
TWO-YEAR-OLDS LOVE TO ASK WHY
…often to annoying excess. However, asking why is an important step in their developmentand helps them understand how the world works.
As we get older, too often we ask how rather than why, but we shouldn’t. (This is where you should ask, “Why?”) Understanding why before how helps us understand the reasoning, setting up opportunities to learn and also reevaluate the status quo. Employees who ask why and understand and embrace the reasons are more motivated and productive, and employers are rewarded with improved organizations when they ask and listen to, “Why?” As Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “The person who knows how will always have a job. The person who knows why will always be his[her] boss.”
At ADG, we are fond of asking why before how. In order to ensure each tactic helps meet our client’s strategic goal, we answer why we are choosing a tactic before answering how we get there. Just because a tactic is trendy doesn’t mean it is right for everyone. Asking why ensures the client’s resources have the greatest impact.
So, start asking why more. You will be better for it—and, if someone tells you that you are acting like a two-year old, take it as a compliment, look them in the eye, and ask, “Why?”
- Is There Too Little ‘Know Why’ In Business?, Harvard Business School
- Why I Love Employees Who Ask ‘Why’, Inc.
- Change Your Employees’ Minds, Change Your Business, Harvard Business Review
- The power of asking ‘Why?’: How it makes employees think and grow, Lee Froschheiser, co-author of Vital Factors, The Secret to Transforming Your Business—And Your Life.
This post originally appeared on ADG Creative’s Brain Juice when our first child was two.