The Five Whys was initially developed as part of the Toyota Production System in the 1950s. The idea behind the process is that the nature of a problem and its solution are not always immediately visible. Sometimes probing is required to see the thing behind the thing.
I learned in a recent course that this line of questioning is also a great tool for understanding our own personal motivations and goals.
You start by stating a question and just keep asking why like a curious toddler.
For example, let’s take a look at why I wanted to join the Supercharge Your Productivity course and learn more about productivity:
- Why enroll? I enrolled in SYP because I wanted to learn more about the $10k framework.
- Why $10k? I am tired of being stuck in $1k development work and not any having leverage.
- Why leverage? I want leverage because when I am not working I am not earning money.
- Why less work? I want to spend less time working so I can spend more time with my family.
- Why more family time? I want to spend more time with my kids and make them more of a priority.
You can use this line of questioning on anything — ask why you want to start a new job, why you want to make more money, why you can’t sit still.