How and Why

When we prepare to carry out an action or activity, we can do so from two different approach methods, the abstract and the concrete. In other words,  the why and the how.

If it is an action we have done many times before, we already know the how. We have become so used to it that we don’t even have to think about what we are doing, or how we are doing it. On the other hand though, if it is an action or activity that is new to us, we would have to be more focussed on the how. Sometimes just having to pause a moment, and realize how we can use pre-existing subskills in a new way to achieve the new action or activity. Sometimes consciously, sometimes almost instantaneously without even realizing we did it. Other times, though, we find we lack all of the skills we will need for the action or activity, and have to learn how to do it ‘from scratch’.

Sounds complicated, and it can be, but it does not have to be. An action or activity depends on the use of skills, and skills can be broken down as much as needed into subskills. Why break down the skills? Because breaking it down into attainable steps and tackling them one at a time helps us to learn all the needed subskills involved and, as we achieve each step, builds a strong and positive foundation that will then support us as we strive to connect each subskill, as we learn each of them, towards the action or activity as a whole. But how do we do that?

By taking this overall skill and asking ourselves who is doing what, where, and when. Looking at the steps needed to succeed in achieving the action or activity. Asking ourselves again and again, until we start to understand the subskills involved. Then doing them. In other words, learning to understand the how of the action or activity.

Do we need a paper and pencil for this? Sometimes, perhaps. Depends on the complexity of the whole, and how much of the smaller parts that make it is new territory for us. Trying out a new recipe, for example, is not hard for someone who uses recipes often. For someone who has not even used a stove before though, it becomes a very complex undertaking. Building a bookcase is not too hard for someone who has put together a piece of pre-fabricated furniture more than once. For someone who has never before held a hammer though, it can be a great adventure.

An adventure. One that gives us new skills.  Then, if we do the activity or action again, we are not as intimidated by it. The more often we do it, it becomes easier, and we can ask ourselves less and less if that was how we did it. We slowly begin to internalize the subskills, and the action or activity becomes to some degree automated. It is at that point that we start to ask why we are doing it.

Why today? Why now? Are we doing this because we want to? Are we doing it because it is part of our job? Perhaps in some way we feel we are improving ourselves. We have left the concrete reasons for the action or activity, and are now into the abstract ones.



If someone says to you “I don’t know how” are you fine with that, or do you feel like they are wimping out. If someone says to you “I don’t know what to do” is it the same reaction, or does that change how you respond?  I forget, sometimes, that what makes sense to me makes absolutely no sense to someone else, unless I word it precisely the way they would. Peaves me though, cause too seldom do others return the favour. In this case though, I am seriously curious, and I can learn from this and all. Responses are VERY welcome! 🙂



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