This is a common question in a household run (or at least partially run) by two young children.
And it is a fair question; how should we expect a three year old to understand the nuances of cleaning up after dinner, or the importance of waiting until a hot object cools to touch it?
These learnings are built from experience, which young children often don’t have a lot of. And, one of our roles as parents is to impart on our children the steps, processes, and “ways of knowing/doing” that have gotten us to where we are (as good/bad as they might be).
The “Why Are We Doing This?” question shouldn’t be seen as a negative, but rather an opportunity to ask ourselves two questions in return: “What sparked interest in asking that question?” and “What do I need to do to make sure that question can be answered (or at least built upon)?”
This is a common question in our professional lives as well. Sometimes, even as much as we are educated professionals, we come across scenarios that we can’t see connections to. Maybe we don’t understand the rationale, maybe we are missing a few important considerations, and/or maybe we have so many other important tasks to address, that adding another one just seems like an impossibility.
In these situations, it is important that we ask this question; never to poke holes, but instead, to raise awareness that all the pieces haven’t fit into the puzzle for us.
This awareness is important, because if those who are furthering the initiative don’t know that others are wondering why the initiative exists in the first place, then it is a lost opportunity for all to make the most of a potentially great situation.
Still, the way we ask the question matters. Since relationships should be at the base of all that we do, we must make sure that we raise the important point of “why” in a way that causes people to be pensive rather than defensive. My supervisor, Marla Gardner, taught me the value of often approaching these scenarios through an “I wonder. . .” lens. By putting the question on ourselves (hence the “I”), it makes it easier for those who might see more of the situation than we do, to not feel attacked, and to give pause and reflect.
We should never treat “Why Are We Doing This?” as a negative. Instead, we should peel the onion and seek the layer (or layers) that we need to more clearly define in order to bring everyone on board with our great work.