Ever talked with a 3 year old? They’re great because they’re so curious. We love watching them explore and look at new things and ask questions. But there’s one question they seem to ask more than any other: WHY.
I remember talking with a toddler when he was asking me consistently “Why?” It’s fun answering their questions at first, but after the first three hundred times it gets a little old. So I started asking him why he kept asking me why. My fun didn’t work though. He just changed the subject…and then asked me why about something else.
But I think these little guys ask the best question of all. It’s the one that brings us to the topic of our very existence. Unfortunately the fun stops there. Once you get older it seems people criticize you for asking why. They may not say it out loud, but they do so but what they don’t say. If you never address the topic, people will be discouraged to ask about it.
“Why?” can be applied to all areas.
- Why do we have a weekly meeting at work?
- Why do you cut your lawn in that direction?
- Why do you take your kids to that particular playground?
All people, especially teens, are asking “why” questions. While it may scare us, we shouldn’t run away from this; we should embrace it. It means they’re learning, they’re growing. They have come to the end of their knowledge and want more. Man, isn’t that exciting?
It used to be that these kind of questions labelled you a trouble-maker. But good leaders are embracing the why questions. Here’s 3 things you can do to foster and encourage why questions:
1) Answer people. If you dismiss their inquiries you squash their curiosity.
2) Encourage others when they do ask. Say “That was a good question, Carl.” Not only will he be encouraged to ask more questions like that, but so will everyone around you watching.
3) You ask. If they see the leader do it, people will probably feel safe in asking why themselves. Not only will you cultivate curiosity, but it will also bring out creativity. But be careful. If you only ask things like, “Why did you screw up that project I gave you?” it won’t help you.
What was it like for you when someone encouraged you to ask why? How did people respond?