Recently I learnt that Toyota is recognised worldwide as an organisation that reinvented manufacturing processes. At a point in time Toyota was not able to compete with the manufacturing capabilities of other car manufacturers, and was at risk of becoming obsolete. Instead of rolling over and giving up they rethought of how and why they were doing things, and the rest is history!
Through their rethink, Toyota came up with this process of asking "5 Whys". The key idea is that problems might not have one simple cause behind it. 5 Whys is a way of discovering other underlying difficulties. Here is an example:
The Problem: The vehicle will not start. (the problem)
Why? - The battery is dead. (First why)
Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (Second why)
Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (Third why)
Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (Fourth why)
Why? - The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (Fifth why, a root cause)
Something they discovered is that by asking 5 Whys, a deeper cause is often identified and therefore rectifiable.
Why do I bring up Toyota and the 5 Whys? Because a while ago I found out that asking myself 5 Whys helps me to discover the real reason I am motivated to do something. As human beings, our deepest motivations are often left un-articulated. When they are left in such a state, we carry on in life thinking that we are truly heading in the direction that we want to be going in, but we end up in a different destination because of the unsaid, underlying motivation behind our actions!
Through our Gifted series our end goal was always to bring people to a place where they understand that everything God has given us is to prepare us for good works (Eph 2:10). On Sunday I spoke about how we need to be driven by our purpose (to be a solution to a problem), rather than simply by our passion. In that way it is imperative that we do a heart-check every now and then to discover whether we are living our lives on purpose, or whether we have drifted along the way. This is where the 5 Whys come in. The first 2-3 whys you ask yourself will be pretty easy. Getting through the 4th and 5th whys will cause you to look much deeper. And here's a tip: be honest with yourself! If you discover an underlying motivation that isn't right, articulating it is the first step to changing it.
My prayer is that we live our lives truly on mission. Too much energy is wasted in sideways motion! Having drifted from my calling before (and probably will from time to time), I can testify to how empty the drift leaves me feeling on the inside. Stay focused and on mission! Use the 5 Whys to check what is really motivating you right now!