The Five Why’s is a process originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda of Toyota Motor Corporation to get to the root cause of a problem and identify the process that had failed (in his case, in the manufacturing of Toyota vehicles). I have tweaked the Five Why’s process to help me uncover hidden limiting beliefs, get to the root cause of being stuck in an area of my life or business and to help me identify my ideal clients.
A key to using this process is to go deep – don’t settle for superficial answers if you’re looking to dig up a problem, bring it into the light and solve it or move past it. Sometimes you need to go seven or eight levels of “why” to get to the true cause, but five rounds will usually suffice.
Here are some tips on using the Five Why’s process:
- When you find yourself engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors (aka, limiting beliefs), you can do this exercise to drill down to the root of the destructive behavior. Go for feeling and emotion. Deep core beliefs often reside in your primal brain, which doesn’t use reason to make decisions. This is also why you have to drop down to the emotional language level of the primal brain to truly uproot deep beliefs and patterns.
- If you’re stuck – not moving forward in your life or business, procrastinating about doing something or just can’t “move on”, you may need to do the process twice – once for a process failing (like if a business transaction went awry) and another time for identifying the emotional / belief pattern that caused the process to fail.
- Identifying the emotional drivers and migraine problems of your ideal client will make a world of difference in your ability to connect with them and successfully provide them solutions and products they want. Use the Five Why’s process to drill down to the root causes and emotions your ideal clients have around the problem you can help them solve.
Let’s take a recent example from my own life. In short, I found myself on the cusp of launching a new business, only to run head-on into a major limiting belief (Upper Limit Problem), which manifested in prolonged physical illness, sabotaging my business progress and self-confidence.
Here’s how I used the Five Why’s to get to the root cause and move forward:
- What’s my problem? Manifesting physical illness to prevent me from having the capacity to do work and start a new business.
- Why #1: Why would I stop myself from starting a new business? Because I would have to expend a lot of time doing all the things necessary to get it going.
- Why #2: Why wouldn’t I want to expend the time? Because it would take away from time with my children and husband.
- Why #3: Why wouldn’t I want to take time away from the family? Because I would feel like I’m a bad mother and wife (a negative association that was set for me by a father who prioritized work over family).
- Why #4: Why would I feel like a bad mother and wife? Because I’d be acting selfishly and doing something just for me.
- Why #5: Why wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) I do something “selfish” or just for me? Because selfish people are bad people and no one likes or loves a selfish person.
You can see that for me, the real limiting belief I had around starting a new business stems from the fear of being perceived as selfish, a bad person, a poor mother and wife and the fear that as a result, I will lose the love of those I love most and no one will like me.
Once you have insight into what’s truly driving your behavior, you can shine a light on your fears and dispel them. Many techniques for removing fears and busting through limiting beliefs, such as Emotional Freedom Technique, Timeline Therapy, Neurolinguistic Patterning processes and more, but a simple technique you can begin with is to ask yourself, “How…?” and “What could… / What if…?”.
- How could I be both a great mother and wife and do what brings me joy?
- What if I could build my own business and not compromise on what’s most important to me? What could that look like?
I'd love to hear from my readers! How have limiting beliefs manifested in your life? How have you overcome them?
Please let me know in the comments section below.
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