I created a project a few months ago. I was so excited about it, but only shared it in a half-hearted way, at best. One person – one stinkin’ person – responded.
I became frustrated, angry, sad, scared, mired in self-disparaging perfectionism to the point that I pulled the offer and tried to forget about it.
(How Not to Grow a Business and Serve Those You’re Called to Serve; Chapter 5,872.)
It wouldn’t go away.
It’s a solid idea. Research-based. Aligned with my heart and values. Designed to serve others. FREE, so whatever lingering issues I may have with asking for money for my work aren’t a factor.
Four months later, I finally got clear about what held me back: the thought that the offer starts with a selfish question.
(See what I did there? I made assumptions about others’ opinions that turned into a boatload of painful thoughts that, even if those fantasized opinions are true, they aren’t even mine. Coach, Coach Thyself; Chapter 4,831.)
That unforgivably selfish question: what do you want more of?
It’s a powerful question that flips the brain from deficit thinking toward possibility and abundance. It’s even more powerful when it’s followed by another question, five times.
The idea of asking why five times originated in the Toyota Motor Corporation as a way get clear about the root of a problem, typically in manufacturing.
(My question: why is that annoying woman in the red dress still in those incessant commercials? I digress.)
Asking why five times is also a great way to get radical clarity about obstacles to navigating your right life. In my experience, following what do you want more of, with five whys nearly always strips away even a hint of selfishness toward heartfelt desires that are way more about generosity and service to others.
- I want a house at the shore plus five whys becomes I want a place near the beach that my family and friends can come to and enjoy with me.
- I want a better job plus five whys becomes I want a saner work schedule so I can spend more time with my family and volunteering in my community.
- I want to make more money plus five whys turns into I want to pay off my crushing college debt so I have more energy – and money – to invest in my family and service projects I find meaningful.
Clear is Kind, Unclear is Unkind
That quote from the brilliant and ever-quotable Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness is one of the hallmarks of positive navigation, as well as one of the big why’s behind my work: clarity leads to wise decisions about how to grow resilience and flourish in an ever-changing world.
Getting clear about what you want more of isn’t selfish. It’s the first step toward a life you love, that fuels you so you can both experience more joy and be of greater service in the world.
So ask away.
What do you want more of? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
Trust that your deepest yearnings are in fact selfless and will point you toward service not only to yourself but to others in ways you probably can’t begin to imagine.