Kaleidoscope 31/40: What is this REALLY about?

Kaleidoscope 31/40: What is this REALLY about?
DALL-E getting more and more creative with only three letters...

Hello friends!

Welcome to the final 10 days of Kaleidoscope. These are my ten FAVORITE questions to ask — most of them are old standbys that I have used for many years.

This is one I ask myself at least once a week. It might be the most important and most underrated of all!

Today's question was initially inspired by Sakichi Toyoda — a Japanese entrepreneur and inventor (his son went on to found Toyota). When faced with a challenge, he would ask a series of five whys in order to understand and, in turn, be able to address the root of the challenge.

The five why's have become part of the canon of business strategy and have inspired entire methodologies, like six sigma, aimed at streamlining and improving business processes.

And, yes, of course I've used this question in the context of business, I also like to apply it in my own life... in a slightly less obnoxious manner than why,why,why,why,why!?!?

What is this REALLY about?

Back before I met my husband Michael, I dated a guy we'll call Adam (name changed).

Adam and I had a ton of fun together and there was nothing wrong with our relationship, but I had this uneasy sense that something wasn't quite right.

I wasn't sure what to do about this feeling as nothing, specifically, was wrong. And its really hard to have a constructive conversation (with effective communication) when... nothing is wrong.

The not-quite issues that I could talk about were returned with reasonable excuses that were totally plausible. For example, he was often late, quite late, for plans. But his job had an unpredictable end point (a reality I very much understood) and he almost never completely flaked.

But my perspective changed when I looked at the quasi-issues globally, and asked myself 'What is this REALLY about?'

It wasn't really about him being late... it was about respect — he should value his commitments to me or communicate with me about being late

But that wasn't really it — I mean, he should, but it wasn't really about respect, it was about how his being late felt to me. It often kind of felt like a power play on his part.

But it really wasn't about power dynamics. I could very much hold my own and I wasn't worried about the actual power dynamics of our relationship.

But that feeling of potentially being played — or even of trying to play some sort of game — that's a start... but what is that really about, for me?

I didn't trust him.

Lightbulb moment.

And listen, I don't have a pattern of trust issues in relationships. In fact, I tend to be over-trusting. (If I did have a low-trust pattern, I would have to consider if this why reflected more on me or our relationship.)

Once I saw that my unease was really about trust, I wasn't able to unsee it. In fact, I saw that trust issues permeated every aspect of our relationship.

It was clear that we needed to end it and it was one of my easiest breakups because it was obviously the right choice.

Most people — myself included — spend our time worrying and stressing about the superficial realities of our lives. About our date being late.

Yet the superficial things are rarely the things that really need changing.

Most of the time, even when superficial problems go away, the bigger challenge — what it is REALLY about — remains.

Even if Adam had never been late to another date, the underlying lack of trust would have remained.

Which is why this question is fundamental to effective understanding and change.

We need to understand the driving why — the value, the belief, the system — that is the root cause of the challenge.

So take a note from Sakichi and ask yourself Why, why, why, why, why??

Or don't. :)

Until tomorrow,