- Thoughts for inspired living

April 14, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:30 am

Every reporter learns the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY model of questioning in the first chapter of their journalism class. The most unproductive question is WHY.

There is no end to the answers you get from asking a WHY question.

Q: Why did you flunk Algebra?

A: Because the teacher doesn’t like me.

A: All the kids are flunking.

A: My textbook has missing pages.

A: 3 million other answers . . .

WHY questions throw you into a thought loop that has no exit ramp. WHY is always followed by BECAUSE and the reasoning machine goes into perpetual mode and never stops until we stop asking WHY.

All of the other question words elicit useful information. Who asked you to do that? What formula did you use to come up with that answer? Where were you standing when car A hit car B? When would be a good time to call? The question HOW is also useful.

You can add the word “specifically” to all the above questions and get even more precise information.

If you have a piece of behavior that you are constantly questioning, you are asking a WHY question and you won’t get any specificity to act on. You will remain stuck. Why do I always do that? is the type of question that always moves you backwards.

Monitor your language and see how often you ask why. Every time that you ask why, you have stalled progress.

Begin the practice of using the other question words and bear witness to a shift in awareness leading to a plan of action.

Why does this work? Because.

All the best,


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