In most cases the use of the word why should be seen as a negative thought process, i.e. because it can be associated with a victim mentality, for instance why does this always happen to me? Why am I so unlucky? Etc.
However, when using the word in a positive way e.g. to analyse something that went wrong or didn’t turn out how you wanted it to, the word why can be a powerful tool to help you identify root cause of a problem or situation, helping you find out what went wrong and make the appropriate changes to your future behaviour or actions to help prevent a repetition.
A machine breaks down in an engineering factory and you need to ascertain the cause of the breakdown. You decide to look backwards to find the root cause of the failure and use the 5 why’s for instance to do so, i.e. why did the chain break? was it due to user error, lack of maintenance, overloading of the system, etc? By investigating the breakdown form this angle you realise that the chain broke due to a lack of maintenance as it had not been adequately lubricated for some time.
So now you know what went wrong, but why was the chain not lubricated? Again you use the power of why to step backward another step, i.e. was it because an automatic system failed, was it human error, was it a damaged part, etc.. Upon closer examination you realise that the chain was not lubricated properly due to the person who normally does this job being on holiday and the new guy wasn’t told he should do so.
By close examination and having used the power of why you ascertain that the machine broke due to a lack of training and a system failure in the personnel element of the process, this allows you to take steps necessary to prevent failure occurring again for similar reasons.
This is a very simple example to demonstrate how working backwards from the problem you can get to the root cause and by doing so can identify what needs to change to enable a different outcome in the future insert.
This process can be used in a variety of situations and can also be used to find the root cause of your personal challenges, enabling you to overcome obstacles and hurdles that you have encountered in the past, i.e. those that have prevented you from achieving your desires.
By using the power of why to identify the root cause, you can quickly and simply identify what you need to do to change the future outcome of the particular challenge and can take the necessary steps or change behaviours to avoid a repetition of the situation you are trying to change. In this way using the word why should be seen as a positive rather than a negative use of the word and one which can be a powerful way to help you identify the blockages that may, if left unchecked, simply result in your repeating the past at the expense of the future.
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