Why You Should Bring the “5 Why’s” Into Every Life Situation
Why, Why, Why, Why, Why? (Because we all want a happier life)
At first glance, you may see this as a very “stupid” way of looking at things or approaching important life situation but we like KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). However, when you take a second glance you will realize that the 5 Why’s theory is actually quite helpful in many life situations and not only analyzing potential problems within a business.
What is this theory?
First of all, you may ask what is the 5 Why’s theory? Well, I shall describe it with a simple example. The 5 Why’s theory is used in the business world by analysts and researchers. This theory is mainly used by the supply chain management department within an organization to find certain challenges and difficulties within their processes and how they can improve the overall performance of the business.
To some people’s surprise, it is actually very useful and I thought to myself, why not apply it to different life situations and problems.
So let me offer a more visual explanation with a simple example. Let’s say that you recently ran through a red light, but you are not sure why this has happened, you want to reach the core factor that has made this happen.
Where do you start?
You ask yourself why? Why have I done this?
As you ask the first why you realize that you were late to work. From there onwards, you must use the answer to the first why as a context for the next why that you will be asking.
The example above is good but not very exact as to how you should apply the 5 Why’s within your thoughts. So let's improve it!
Why were you late to work?
Because you woke up late.
Why did you wake up late?
Because the alarm clock didn’t ring.
Why didn’t the alarm clock ring?
Because it did not have any batteries.
Why did it not have any batteries?
Because I forgot to buy some.
(And most probably if I would have bought some I would have forgotten to change the batteries…)
By the fifth Why you should find a concrete answer or factor as to why the problem you have been looking at has occurred. This does not mean that if you do not find an optimal answer you should stop at 5 Why’s, as you can go much further. Just in the improved version of the example, I could have gone much further by asking myself:
Why did you forget to buy some?
Because I forgot to put it on the grocery list.
So on and so forth… I can find many different contexts as to why I did no change the batteries. However, this is where you need to use a bit of your own creativity to come to an optimal answer for you.
In my case I would have asked:
Why don’t you have a backup alarm?
From which you can create many different contexts.
How can this improve your life?
As mentioned before, this theory can be applied in most situations, so in order to prove it’s validity as well as it’s power I shall exemplify with a more important context.
Let’s say that you just had an intensive argument with a friend, partner or family member. You both depart in different ways for the night until things calm down. However, you are worried about who was in the wrong or why did this conflict happen in the first place. You want to get to the bottom of it but you don't know where to start.
Here is where The 5 Why’s come into play once again.
(do excuse me in advance for my poor creation of contexts as I am not very good with conflicts nor do I have many experiences with them).
Why did this conflict take place?
Because I don’t spend enough time with that certain person.
Why don’t you spend enough time with that person?
Because I always end up coming late home.
Why do you always end up coming late home?
I have certain priorities such as work.
At this point, in this context we have discovered the root of the problem, however, we also want to find out more, specifically, how can we improve the relationship in order to avoid such conflicts to happen in the future.
This is where we keep asking ourselves question but they don’t necessarily need to start with “Why” as “Why” may be a powerful tool but it has its own limitations.
Who do you prioritize the most?
“The person I just had a conflict with.”
See how efficient we already became at using this theory? In only 3 Why we were able to find the root of the problem/conflict.
The person forgot to prioritize their friend, partner or family member as the top priority. Instead (as most of us do) they have been entrenched by work and have slowly built up a monotonous routine that has shifted their priorities.
The person has realized that they were in the wrong, he or she was the creator of the conflict as he or she is the one who brought the external factor which has allowed the creation of the conflict.
This is how the “5 Why’s” can help you to uncover certain problems in your life and at the same time lead you towards the path of resolving these issues or finding a solution that will enhance the quality of your life.
In other words, bring more happiness!!!