Beyond the Numbers: The Power of WHY

2y = 16

Each night I work with my 11 year-old daughter on her 5th grade math homework as she tackles the basics of algebra.  The problem above was in a recent assignment, and she asked me if she had the correct answer for the “power of y.”

The way she said that moved my mind from math to thinking about the “power of WHY.”  My children have studied homophones (words that sound the same, but differ in meaning), so we took the opportunity to talk about “y” in a different context.

As an elementary student, my daughter’s “WHYs” look something like this, “Why do I have to wait to get a phone? Why do I need to share with my brother? Why do you pay taxes?” My wife’s and my ability to interpret the purpose behind her questions and answer in context will dramatically impact her understanding and perspective. Understanding WHY is powerful and provides clarity of purpose and deepens our relationships with others.

How can our pursuit of WHY impact each of us in our daily work life?

  • Seeking to understand WHY a procedure is in place helps us understand how our contributions are important and better yet, recommend changes for improvement.
  • Taking a moment to talk to a fellow associate about WHY he or she responded to you in a way that confused you (if done genuinely in the spirit of being open and honest with each other) leads to trust and greater collaboration.
  • Working with clients to understand their corporate goals, their own definition of WHY they are in business, allows us to deliver the resources they need in an efficient and meaningful way.

Here at MJ, our purpose is to “Inspire the success, fulfillment and wellbeing of each person we serve.”  One of our passions that support our purpose is Personal Development, striving to become the best version of yourself, both personally and professionally.  Understanding WHY builds a person’s knowledge and improves your ability to team up with others.

For my daughter at the kitchen table, all she wanted was to ensure her homework was correct and for me to agree with her that y = 4.  My hope for her (and for myself) is that we are always engaged in a healthy pursuit of WHY so that the spirit of understanding, collaboration and deeper relationships can be an outcome on our daily journey.