In the process of raising three kids, there are many lessons I find they teach me along the way. I love how inquisitive they are. There have been moments when we have been together that they want to know “how” something works. Many times I’m not sure myself, but I always do my best to provide an answer. I can’t tell you how many times that the next question they ask is, “Why does it work this way?”
Unfortunately the older we get, I think we stop asking “Why?” If you are going to build a life that can ultimately leave a legacy, you can’t afford to only ask “How?” The majority of people who come to my office simply want to know “how” to do something. Most have never asked the question “why” they may want to do something and if they have, the answer is usually rather shallow.
I understand how this happens. In the world of marketing, it’s all about “how” with little thought put into “why.” Our advancing technology and greater connectedness leads to a world full of solutions. If the world is my audience, I don’t need that many people to want my solution in order to be successful. I also know that finding out “why” takes time. With our busy schedules, we forget how important it can be.
Your life is a movie, not a snapshot. You have a past that has shaped your thoughts and feelings. You have a future that you’ve dreamed of. Without a better understanding of “why”, you risk building your legacy based on many “how’s” filled with products and solutions that solve a problem for that snapshot of a moment.
What do I mean? Well, I can’t tell you how many people want to know “how” much is enough for retirement? Or, “how” can I best avoid taxes this year? Or, “how” can I pay for my children’s education? Or, “how” can I limit my estate taxes? These are great questions and there are great solutions available for each one. However, if your life is built on solving the “how’s” without a clear “why,” then it is like trying to build a house with many quality materials and no real blueprint. You will end up with a nice shelter, but are you ever really sure you couldn’t have done better?
I think you’ve guessed by now, but there is no better place to start than with “Why?” Depending on the complexity of the family, we will spend anywhere from 2 to 12 hours together helping them determine their “why” before we ever start working on “how.”
Is it worth it? Most of the families we take through this process say it is the best time they have ever spent. We move so fast in life that we don’t take the time to slow down and focus. During this time we ask challenging questions and help financial decision makers find common ground on issues they may not have even considered.
What is the result? Once we understand “why,” we develop very clear goals and objectives. This focus allows us to help families make decisions and align themselves with the “how’s” that fit their family. Making decisions becomes easy. You know the best solution, because you know exactly “why” it is being implemented. Put simply, you can narrow your focus to the products that specifically get you to your “why” without getting distracted with the rest of the world’s “how’s.”
My children have a way of keeping me grounded. They teach me every day, and sometimes their lessons are better than those I learn from my peers. In the area of asking “why,” I know my kids have it right! I encourage you to listen to your inner child and start by asking “Why?”