Seven Whys

I picked up this trick from Dean Graziosi’s book, Millionaire Success Habits. To get at the deep truth in answer to your Big Question, whatever it may be, he recommends you answer the question seriously, then ask yourself why that answer makes the sense it apparently does. Then, after answering, ask it again, and again, recursively until you’ve asked “Why?” seven times.

Dean swears seven is the magic number, and I’m inclined to agree. I’ve tried this on a few occasions, and the insight developed after the sixth ask has always felt more ominous than satisfying, while the seventh has felt like an epiphany. I’ve never been interested in an eighth.

Yesterday I was considering the question of my overarching purpose, especially important since I’m working to organize my entrepreneurial life. I asked myself, “What’s my ultimate aim?” Here’s what I came up with:

I wanna help people get along with each other.

Why?

So we can play together, show each other the cool sh!t we’ve found, and find more more effectively.

Why?

Because the world is a fascinating place, and being human is a fascinating experience in it. Basically, I’m diggin’ the trip.

Why?

Because it feels good—exciting and empowering—to discover new insights into what this is, what and who we are, and how it all works.

Why?

Because it seems circumstances, social institutions and systems, and sometimes specific people conspire to make broad experience and understanding difficult as a means to consolidate control over me.

Why?

Because the cultural lessons of my childhood (Black, American, Christian, poor-ish) cast me, in my own mind, as the underdog.

Why?

Because I wanted to excuse myself for my inadequacies; I felt I needed an excuse to fail.

Why?

Because, consistently enough, I was punished for falling short.

And there it is.

With the layers and their relationships to each other exposed as they are after this exercise, I’m better equipped to go about my work of helping people get along together, because I know better what all is at stake for me.

Seven layers beneath my superficial understanding, I discovered I’m still playing out the consequences of my earliest formative experiences. I wonder how much of this is true for you too.

You can reach me at kwame@kwamekamau.com if you’d like to continue the conversation.

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