Why is a powerful question. I often ask myself this regarding my professional decisions. If I don’t understand the why, it makes everything a little unsteady for me. I have found over the years that action with intention can move mountains. You can’t accomplish much if you just have intention without action, and action without intention is meaningless. When I am crystal clear about my purpose, I am able to focus my energy a with clearly defined objective.
Sometimes asking why is difficult because it forces us to be reflective...that can be hard. But, when we question our decisions and practices it may lead us to some pretty cool new directions. It can also validate some of our choices as well. For example, each time the vocal teachers sit down to talk about curriculum we always ask “Why do we use solfege? Is it useful?” We don’t ask this because we don’t think it’s useful or extremely important. We ask this because it is absolutely necessary to check in with the reason why we are teaching it. Asking “Why do we use solfege” opens up a conversation about why it’s valuable and why we use it in our curriculum. These discussions are always rich in educational philosophy and gets us thinking deeply as to why we do things the way we do. It also provides an opportunity for change if we discover our why is a little cloudy.
I have found that people often do things because that’s the way it has always been done. It’s easy to just keep doing what you’re doing citing, “That’s just how things are done around here.” But, this is the absolute WORST reason to do something, and reminds me of this tale:
A woman was preparing pot roast for dinner one evening and her husband walked into the kitchen. He saw her cut off the top and bottom end of the roast before she put it in the pan.
“Why do you do that?” He asked.
“You know,” she responded, “my mom always prepared it this way, but I’m not sure why. I’ll give her a call.”
The woman called her mom.
“Hi mom.” She said. “Listen, I am making pot roast for dinner, and I cut off the top and the bottom of it like you always used to do. Why do you need to do that?”
“Huh…” said her mom as she thought “I always did it that way because that’s how I was taught by grandma. I would ask her!”
So she did.
“Grandma,” the woman asked over the phone. “Why did you always cut off the top and the bottom of the pot roast?”
“Oh honey,” she responded “We didn’t have a big enough pan!”
Question everything. Find your why.