“Why?” It’s one of those questions that to anyone who has spent time around young children has probably heard one too many times. As adults, we tend to get impatient and annoyed by this simple question, but kids may actually be on to something! Kids ask why because they are generally not satisfied with the first answer—and this isn’t always a bad thing! “Why?” is an important question that in some circumstances probably isn’t asked enough.
Asking “why”—especially in the workplace—can be extremely helpful in getting to the root of the question or true problem and figuring out a real solution rather than just a temporary quick fix or “band-aid.” In other words, in our busy lives, it can be easier to just answer hastily to a request or question, but by asking why a few times first BEFORE giving your answer, you might find out valuable information regarding the root or cause of the original question.
In his recent book, The Lean Startup, author Eric Ries references the concept and example of the “Five Whys.” His thought is that at the root of every seemingly technical problem is a human problem and asking Five Whys provides an opportunity to discover what that human problem might be.
It may not help or apply in every situation, but try asking why and see what happens! Everyone is busy and moves so quickly during the day, so it initially may take a little extra time, but acquiring more information and getting to the root of the question can help save time and improve the quality of your work in the long-run. So the next time someone asks you a question, channel your inner 3 year old, ask “Why” a couple times and wait for the answers!
Memorial Day has come and gone and that means one thing-Summer is here! For you lucky readers, summer can mean vacation, but due to budget and time restraints, some vacationers turn to the old fashioned road trip for summer adventures. The phrase “road-trip” probably conjures up visions and memories (or perhaps nightmares) similar to what was experienced in National Lampoons Vacation: broken down car, miserable long hours with family sing-alongs and stale roadside sandwiches. While we can’t help with the stale sandwiches, there can be valuable career and life skills learned on the road resulting in a productive adventure.
1. Patience- At some point in the trip you’ll either hear or want to say, “Are we there yet?” Life can be stressful, busy and rushed so relish in this chance to just slow down and enjoy your surroundings, company and appreciate the moment. Patience is an extremely valuable skill to master and will lead to healthier physical and mental well-being in all aspects of life.
2. Time Management- Wherever your destination, there is likely some form of an agenda or schedule that needs to be followed- just as in our career. While a road trip should be a casual and relaxed experience this can be a good opportunity to practice sticking to a schedule. Plan ahead, be on time and don’t get too distracted or off-track by stopping at the world’s largest ball of twine!
3. Teamwork- Everyone in the car generally has a job – driver, navigator, food/stop spotter, DJ, or overall entertainer, but it’s everyone working together that makes the trip work. Teamwork is what makes your office function as well so prepare for your roll, do your job well, don’t let the team down and keep that car moving!
4. Think on your Feet- Even though there is a plan and preparations have been made, something unexpected is going to come up. This is the perfect opportunity to practice problem solving. Stay calm, think it through and make logical and smart choices. Life is not perfect and rarely goes according to plan, but how you react and solve these imperfections is a valuable lesson to learn.
5. Adapt to your Surroundings- It may not be exactly what you had hoped for or what your ideal situation would be (camping versus Cabo?) but learn to appreciate what is around you. Just as in our careers, we need to learn to live in the moment and appreciate and learn from what we have and where we are at the time. Every situation is what YOU make of it.
Take some time off this summer to hit the road and enjoy it for what it’s worth! Fun can be had anywhere and you just might even learn something to help in your career. Just don’t let the license plate bingo and stale sandwiches bring you down!
Looking for road trip ideas? Check out these links for some great nationwide trip suggestions!