Welcome to The SHAPE of a Leader. I write this blog with the SHAPE leadership development program (for women pastors) I lead in mind, but it is for all who are interested in leadership, faith, and the intersection of the two.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Mind Needs a "Why?"

My mind recalls my mother exasperatedly exclaiming, "You ask too many questions!"  I don't know the nature of my curiosity - my memory's not that good - but I'm sure most of those questions started with "Why....?"  We're born with a need to understand the order and purpose of things.

Some why questions help us understand the nature of the world - how things work, what's customary, why we do the things we do. In the movie "Finding Forester," the challenged youth asks the elderly mentor "Why do you use milk in your tomato soup instead of water?" Turns out the answer is that the elder could afford it, and probably the adolescent's poverty-stricken mother could not.  The simple question and its answer reveal something about the order of this world for each of the conversation's participants.

Then there's the more cosmic "Why?" Why are we here? Why me? Why NOT me?  Why this? Why that? Why now? The answers to these questions are critical to life purpose, to happiness, to growth, and to leadership. The more we understand our purpose in life and leadership, the more our confidence increases, and the more we lead from a foundation of authenticity.

It's easy to run from the cosmic Why. Sometimes we're so busy getting daily life done that we simply don't take the time to ask the big Why questions.  Sometimes, we don't want their answers. We'd rather be blissfully unencumbered with the plan God has in store for us and skip along our merry way. A colleague and I were just sitting with a potential that has appeared in front of her. Her question was "Why me?" My question was "Why NOT you?"  She might not want the answer, but her mind, and her heart, need it.  And the world needs her to answer it.  

By not answering the cosmic Why, our place in the world isn't quite right. We haven't quite fulfilled our intended purpose. By not answering the Why, I, and you, deny the world what only I, and you, are perfectly suited to offer.  

So, what Why does your mind need an answer to?

1 comment:

  1. "Find out what you're here to do. Do the best you possibly can. And do it all the time."
    --Leonard Parker, FAIA

    Hi Mary Kay,

    Leonard was my architecture professor at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. He died this year after dedicating his life to the architectural profession practicing, teaching, and leaving a lasting "Minnesota Modern" legacy.

    Thank you for your inspiring blog! I first saw it in a Easter email, started reading it, and couldn't quit. I now read everyone and tell others. Your "Why" or "What" reminded me of Leonard. I won't forget your words at the Confirmation Retreat when we mentors were given the opportunity to say a few words: "You have a choice. Make good choices!"

    Thank you,

    Rolf Lokensgard, AIA

    Rolf Lokensgard Architecture Inc