We are all very different. We think differently, act differently, and have very different beliefs. Most of us go blindly through our days, just doing things without thinking about why we do what we do.
If I ask you why you do some of the things you do, you might be caught off guard, unable to give a good reason for doing those things that way. That should concern you. The idea that we float through life, basically on autopilot, not having good reasons for behaving the way we do, is crazy.
Zig Ziglar used to tell a story about a newly married couple. The wife would cut the end of the ham off before baking it. When the husband asked why she did that, her response was that her mother always cut off the end of the ham, and that’s the way it was supposed to be. Not liking that response of “the way it was supposed to be,” the husband called his mother-in-law and asked her why she cut off the end of the ham. She told him that her mother always cut off the end of the ham.
Super curious, the husband called the grandmother to ask her why she cut off the end of the ham. She told him that her oven was very small, and the only way to fit the ham inside was to cut off the end of it.
Obviously, the grandmother had a specific purpose for cutting the end off the ham. It made sense, was necessary, and she knew why she did it. Neither the wife nor the mother-in-law even knew why they were doing it. They did it simply because it was “the way it was supposed to be.”
How many things do you do, say, and think because it is “the way it is supposed to be.” A bigger question… how many of these things are not serving you well, causing you problems, or wasting your time? At first, people defend their behaviors and beliefs, often responding with things like, “It’s the way it’s always been done,” “It’s the way I’ve always done it,” or, simply, “because.”
Those are terrible responses even when things are going well, but absolutely ridiculous when things aren’t.
I regularly question my thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Believe it or not, that ham story pops into my head often. It reminds me that I must review my reasons for doing what I do. Challenging my own thought process and belief system helps me to adapt, grow, and succeed. I’m super critical of my thought processes when things aren’t going well, but even in times of success and achievement, I review those thoughts and beliefs to ensure there’s not room for even greater success.
We are living in a time with such rapid change that we cannot rely on doing things the way our parents or grandparents did them. That’s the way we know, but it often isn’t the best way. We can’t even rely on doing things the way we, ourselves, did things even a few years ago.
And blindly following any group, whether it’s political, religious, corporate, or medical, without really asking why, has gotten a lot of people into trouble. It feels good to belong to a group. We are wired to be tribal. But if the group jumps off a cliff, following them would be foolish.
Take a moment and think about a few of your most strongly held beliefs. Why do you have those? Where did they come from? Was it learned through tradition, through your education, or through personal experiences? Are those beliefs serving you well? Do they differ greatly from friends, family, or your spouse? Why do they think what they think? Why do they act the way they act?
We are in tough times. Everyone thinks and acts with such certainty, but when confronted, the foundation upon which those beliefs are built, crumbles. It’s time to either figure out why you are cutting off the end of the ham… or stop foolishly doing it. This is NOT a time to just follow. It is a time for critical thinking and belief analysis.