Recently, we illustrated the benefits of inquiry over advocacy and a solutions focus over problem analysis. Today let’s look briefly at the reason for a solution focus when dealing with issues that need to be addressed. When my boys made foolish decisions in their growing up years, I tended to ask them why, probing their motivation for such obvious stupidity. In fact, I used a phrase my wife hated, “what is wrong with your brain?” I know. Neandarthal, right? What I was trying to express was my own frustration at being interrupted or inconvenienced by something I didn’t plan or couldn’t control. It was really all about me. Asking ‘why’ might be more interesting if there is a crisis but it isn’t very useful.

Focusing on the problem is all about the past. Focusing on the solution is all about the present to future. It is admitting the current reality and attempting to probe the possible routes that might be taken to escape or lessen the damage. We can’t change the event but we can control our response to it.

Let’s stop asking why (which leads to blame, remorse, and justifications. Instead, let’s ask what, how and when, even who. That’s moving toward the light of a preferred future not the black hole of an unchanging past.