I was recently asked what I believed to be humanity’s biggest issue. I knew that my interviewer hinted at common systemic problems like lack of access to resources, inequality, climate change, etc. And while I agree that these are issues that need to be tackled, I disagree that they are at the heart of the matter. As usual, we are mistaking cause and effect and solely focused on the consequence of our doing.
Humanity’s real issue shows in the questions we ask. We run around the world asking “WHAT should we do?” and “HOW can we change things?” The thing is, no real issue has ever been resolved by answering a WHAT or a HOW question. Those questions are only good for finding a quick fix that delays a real resolution. You see, WHAT and HOW questions satisfy our impatience.
But, we also ask these questions because something feels off. We are emotionally bothered by something and immediately ask WHAT and HOW questions. Oddly enough, we never wonder WHY we feel this way. We don’t ask WHY things are the way that they are? We ask WHAT and HOW because we agree that a solution needs to be found within the framework that is given. We want a comfortable solution that doesn’t stretch the boundaries of what needs to be done beyond the admissible. And by doing so, we don’t leave room for valid solutions.
We want things to change, but not at any cost.
Little kids are obsessed with WHY questions. They are still connected to their natural curiosity, their openness, their sense of wonder. They understand intuitively that the magic of the world lies in the cause of things. And so they are unafraid of getting straight to the point.
For us as adults, this means we must re-engage with our intuition and go back to WHY questions first:
What causes you to feel the way you feel about your work or your life?
What creates the reality of your work and your life? (Don’t be fooled. These questions are based on WHY. They are not asking “What should I change or how can I change it?)
These two central questions are deeply interlinked. Whatever you allow to create your work reality will create your emotional reality. If what you have embraced as the cause for your work reality is unnatural and even opposed to your own true self, then the work that ensues will take on an unnatural path- something you are bound to feel deeply.
This cannot be rectified with all the WHAT and HOW questions in the world because you first need to work at the root level and correct the cause. Of course this requires courage and desire.
All systemic issues have a cause that remains inaccessible to our current limited mindset. Without the courage and desire to shift the cause we will never be able to shift our actions. Rice bags, medical aid and weapons delivered into zones of crises will never be a solution, just like changing the way you go about your work today without daring to shift its cause will never change the way you feel about it…