Ask the WHY

Seth Godin had an interesting post recently, when technology and tradition diverge which talks about how we hang onto traditions that are old because it was always done that way. It reminded me of how we forget to ask the WHY when someone says we have always done it this way.

One of my favorite stories about WHY:

A husband watched his young wife cut the end of the roast off and put it back in the fridge. He asked her why she did that. She told him because her mother always did it that way. The next time he saw his mother-in-law, he asked her why she always cut the end off the roast. The mother-in-law said that was the way her mother always did it.

Fortunately, Gramma was still alive and the young man took the time to ask her this now nagging question. “Why do you cut the end of the roast off before you cook it?” Gramma’s reply set him off howling with laughter, ” because my pan was too short to fit the whole roast in.”

Outdated Traditions

When you get stuck with outdated traditions that started because of the conditions at the time, ask the WHY. It might take you awhile to pin down the answer but you will be surprised at how many strategies or procedures are based on “that’s the way we have always done it.”

Today’s world is changing faster than we blink and if we cling to the way it has always been just because, we may be missing great opportunities. Job search and writing your resume changed dramatically and is more challenging than even five years ago.

If you are relying on the old rules, you may be surprised to find out that the reason for those rules is outdated and you could have saved much time if you had asked the WHY.

Your turn – do you have an ask the WHY example?


  1. Michael Lunsford on August 13, 2010 at 8:57 am

    haha! Sometimes you don’t want to know the answer to “Why?” because you know it will bring that stomach dropping feeling that accompanies another “why” question: “Why didn’t I ask sooner?”

    • Julie Walraven on August 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm

      Love it, Michael! Yes, I do suppose that is exactly why some people never ask the WHY question. But there could be great benefits in asking why and considering what technology is being ignored because it was always not that way. Or what innovative idea was never implemented because it is the way it always was.

  2. Melissa Cooley on August 15, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I love this! So applicable to the many changes with job searching and career management. A big why questions that job seekers could ask themselves is, “With all the changes happening all around us, WHY would I expect something like my job search to stay exactly the same as it was decades ago?”

    • Julie Walraven on October 19, 2010 at 5:40 am

      A really good question, Melissa, and I missed your comment on this post! Your job search can’t stay the same and without professionals to guide you, it is hard to see all the changes.

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