This week, I am going to be asking a deceptively simple question. Why? And no, I'm not being purely philosophical. In fact, I am attempting to be entirely business minded. Allow me to explain. As part of the Social Entrepreneur Fellowship that I am currently enrolled in, we are working on developing business plans. As part of this exercise, we had to identify five of our key passions and ambitions. For each of these, we then had to go through a process known as the five whys. This is a process whereby you attempt to boil things down by repeatedly asking yourself why it is important. In completing this exercise, I was struck by how challenging and yet useful it was that I decided to put some of my thoughts down in this week's blog..
We will take, for the purposes of this blog, what I identified as my number one passion and ambition - helping others to change the way that they think about disability. So with that as our jumping off point, we then can embark upon the journey of 5 whys. Why is that my passion? The answer, when I stop and think about it, is quite straightforward. It is because I believe that a disability is something to be embraced and celebrated.
But why do I believe that? I suppose it is because disability brought so many positive aspects and experiences to my life and to the life of those around me. If you have ever seen me in a public speaking setting, you have no doubt heard about the many ways that I feel disability has positively contributed to my relationship. All of these positives are things that I truly believe that exist and therefore have made my disability, on balance, more positive than negative.
But why are those positives good things? In other words, what is it about them that is positive? This one made me hesitate for a while, but I think I have nailed down exactly why I see them in this way. All of these positives have two things in common. They have underlying themes of creativity and innovation. These, to me, are two of the most valuable characteristics that any human can possess.
Here comes why number four. Why does disability lead to creativity and innovation? As someone who has lived with my disability since birth, I wonder whether this is in fact the case or whether I am just a creative and innovative person. Fundamentally however I believe that my disability is, in part, responsible for that creativity because I have had to adapt so many times and in so many different situations. I am a firm believer that disability causes you to perceive the world differently and to think outside the box more often. So the answer to that why seems to lie rooted in my constant need to adapt.
And finally, why does disability lead to a constant need to adapt? There are so many angles or answers that could be taken this one but the core of it seems to me that society is not set up for people with disabilities. Some may disagree with this statement but the multiple barriers, both physical and social, that continue to exist in 2015 seem to suggest that it is the case.
And so we reached the end of the 5 whys. I appreciate the journey that they led me on and I appreciate the fact that they forced me to really boil down exactly why I was doing what I am doing my business. Did they answer everything? Absolutely not. They did, however, provide a level of clarity and reflection that I had not experienced yet. So I guess what I'm saying is that when you are faced with a hard decision for a tough choice, as a starting point, ask yourself why and then follow that up with four more whys. You may be surprised by the results!