Why Ask "Why"?

Sometimes I think I’m going crazy. I can’t seem to stop asking, “Why?” It even happens in my dreams – I sometimes ask myself, “Why am I dreaming this?” – WHILE I’m dreaming? So does that make me crazy?  

Well, according to some pretty substantial educational research, people who ask “why” all the time would be categorized as Lifelong Learners or people high on the “Inquisitive Spectrum”. Is that good? If it is, why is it good? There I go again!


I don’t know when I started becoming more comfortable with my continual questioning, but I think it had to do with my job. I worked with reporters for nearly 40 years. I liked them. I still do. And I think the reasons were that reporters, writers and editors tend always to be interested in subjects with which they may not be very familiar. They are Lifelong Learners.


Many such people are “Type E” personalities. They have broad interests and become passionate about the subjects that motivate them. They thrive on new ideas and challenges. They are inquisitive and love to learn. They are “Why” people.


And, interestingly enough, research has found that most entrepreneurs and CEOs are Type E personalities.


Now, before you think I am saying Type E personalities are something special – here are the many downsides. “Typees” (as they are called) want to have complete control over their environment, can be so direct that they can seem to be insensitive and can appear to live on the edge because they have high risk tolerances. These are not easy personality traits to live with – ask my wife! But the breadth of their interests makes life interesting – for them and for others.


So let’s get back to my original point – Why ask Why? As you can see, leaders tend to be Lifelong Learners and Why people. And that’s good because we want our leaders to be asking the tough questions, digging deeply into issues to find solutions and then take the necessary risks to solve the problems.


But do you have to be a Typee to be a Lifelong Learner? No. Typees are lucky – it comes naturally to them but anyone can develop both a love and an ability to never stop learning. A mentor, coach or teacher can help show “why asking why” is important to you, your family, co-workers and friends. Once a person develops that desire to ask questions they begin to understand one another better, develop more empathy, grow and forgive more naturally.


I have always found it interesting that the Bible has so many “why” questions – hundreds of them. However, sometimes I think there are more questions than direct answers. Just take a look at some of them:


“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” (Acts 4:25). “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jeramiah 12:1). “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” (Psalm 43:5). “Why have you repaid good for evil?” (Genesis 44:4).


Pretty important and deep questions. And we can even ask, “Why does the Bible ask these questions?” But that’s for anther blog topic.


Asking “why” is good. Seeking answers will stretch our imaginations, creativity and relationships. But we have to do it for the right reasons and in the right way. We should develop the ability to ask “why” with empathy and love. Not only will this develop deeper meanings in our own lives, but we will be showing others that we are interested in them, their lives, interests, successes and trials. Those questions will make us “Other-Centered” – a way of looking at life through other people more than ourselves. Now that’s a good enough reason to become a “Why Person”.