6 Degrees of Why

Most of us are familiar with the concept of six degrees of separation—the theory that any two individuals in the world are linked together by six steps or less.

For example, I am connected to Oprah Winfrey in five steps. Me to Brandon to Steve to Iyanla to Oprah. We’ll skip the last names for now.

We can apply this same process to discovering our true motivation for anything we are or are not doing in our lives. Author and speaker, Steve Chandler, calls it the “reason behind the reason.”

If we drill down deep enough—six times or so—we can discover our big Why.

Let’s say you want a write a novel. Go through the steps:

Why #1: Why do you want to write a novel?
Answer: Because it would be cool to be a published author.

Why #2: Why do you want to be a published author?
Answer: Because it would be great to be recognized for my talents.

Why #3: Why is it important for you to be recognized for your talents?
 Answer: Because most of the time I feel overlooked and ignored.

Why #4: Why do you think you’re overlooked and ignored?
 Answer: Because I don’t stand up and take credit where it’s due.

Why #5: Why don’t you take credit for yourself?
Answer: Because you’re not supposed to brag.

Why #6: Why do you think it’s wrong to brag about yourself?
Answer: Because bragging is selfish.

Try this exercise for yourself. You may find that many of your surface goals are disguising a need for approval or acceptance—which is a fundamental lack of self-love and self-respect. And that often those are things you can give yourself, or that can be addressed directly.

In the example above, this would-be novelist may simply have an unconscious desire to be more self-assured and confident.

Now before all the haters start blasting away, I will say that sometimes we just want something because we want it. Period. For no good reason at all. That’s fine too. Sometimes you want to write a novel because you love to write. It’s fun to write. Cool. I get it.

Just try to be cognizant of the times you might be unconsciously trying to fool yourself.

And if you think there is something going on beneath the surface, ask yourself why.

At least six times.

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