Many of my mentoring engagements begin with a focus on the kinds of questions that a person has been asking themselves. It may seem strange at first to suggest that it is the questions rather than the answers which are important; but that is the case more often than not. The seminal indicator that this is the case is the ‘why’ question.
- Why is this happening to me?
- Why am I so unlucky?
- Why does everybody treat me this way?
- Why can’t I live a life that I enjoy?
- Why can’t I find my true calling?
It takes a lot of heavy lifting to get a person to see that their questions are really the first challenge that we have to attack. We have to replace all those questions with ‘how’ questions.
- How can I change what is happening to me?
- How can I become luckier?
- How can I get everybody to treat me with respect and kindness?
- How can I live a life that I will enjoy?
- How can I find my true calling?
The simple change from why to how brings a fundamental shift in the way each person sees themselves. The ‘why’ questions are for victims while the ‘how’ questions are for people who are pro-active in molding their life. When you begin to figure out ‘how’ to make your life better, you have taken a major step forward. Once you give up the status of victim and become the author of your own life, you begin to create that life rather than having others create it for you.
This simple change can bring a major shift in a person’s self-image. It can also radically change their behavior. I sometimes feel as if I have turned a precocious two-year-old loose in the world. But now, instead of ‘why’, the persistent question is ‘how’? One person rushed up to me in a restaurant and said, “My life has completely changed. Now every experience becomes a ‘how’ question. I’m always looking for ways to make my life better. I always am asking myself, ‘how’ I can make it better.”
Always take care of your life, never let it become an accident already happening.
© Earl R. Smith II, PhD