Appreciating Why

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Why did you get out of bed this morning?  Because you have to?  Because you always do at that time?  Because duty calls?  Because you have too much to do to just sit and “do nothing?”  How late were you up last night?  How early are you up this morning? 

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Many times we reflect on how it is that we do things—well, poorly, differently, efficiently, etc.  Sometimes we need to spend some time thinking about why we do things.  What drives us?  What gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us responding to work emails at some crazy late hour in the evening?  How can we recognize and appreciate those things about ourselves?

I have sometimes thought about what would happen if for one day, everyone in the world just took the day off.  It would probably be a struggle, even though it seems like a nice idea.  Alas, we do leave the comfy confines of our beds.  Additionally, we almost always have some list of tasks to do, we have our daily routines, and do our best to "have a good day".  Things don’t always go to plan—we procrastinate, we learn of extra steps involved, we have to face some adversity—yet we find a way to get them done.   We have some continual motivation to do.

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What is it?  When is the last time you tried to remind yourself or figure it out?  With the constant hustle of the every day going from meeting to meeting, speaking with patient after patient, or just going through the same routine over and over, it is easy to stop thinking about the why.  It is easy to get stuck thinking about what needs to be done instead of remembering why we do it.  So, what is the importance of asking why?

Because it forces us to name those motivations that make us do what we do—whether we are motivated by helping people, supporting our family, making an impact, learning, growing, find a purpose, or just being.  Physically naming them allows us to appreciate them.  We can recognize that it is these things that are worth sacrificing our time, sleep, comfort, relaxation, etc.  Take a moment to recognize that you are willing to make that sacrifice, even when nobody is watching.  Appreciate yourself for making that sacrifice.  Realize that those motivations are a part of you.  They say something about you.  Even though you are sometimes alone in recognizing these motivations, they still matter.  


Thinking about motivations is another reason that I really enjoy design thinking.  It is all too easy to settle for the superficial answer to a question—to just ask the superficial question without digging deeper.  It is easy to give a user an iPad as a prototype and ask “what do you think?”  The user might say “I like it, this is very cool.”  Without asking the next question, one might walk away and report that the user likes iPads, so we should get iPads.  You may find, however, that if you had asked the next question that the reason the user likedthe iPad is that it was small and light and presented information clearly.  They may not say anything about the technology itself.  Perhaps a simple little notebook would address the need?  

It can be hard to dive deeper.  Sometimes users have never thought about the why, so we have to ask the question in many different ways or just allow for time to process.  We can spend a lot of time trying to identify the motivations behind the “likes” or “dislikes” something.  Finding them, however, is critical.  The underlying motivations fuel our projects and our designs.  Thankfully, these motivations fuel us all everyday!

Andrew Yin

Please email me at to share your feedback, experiences, feelings, comments, or ideas.  Also, send an email if you want to join our feedback team and are willing to be interviewed for our future projects!  If you have an opportunity or challenge you would like to chat with the Hub about, submit it by clicking here!