The Answer to How is Yes !

October 20, 2012



There is depth in the question

How do I do this ?

that is worth exploring.

The question is a defense against the action.

It is a leap past the question of purpose,

past the question of intention,

and past the drama of responsibility.


The question “How?”

more than any other question

looks for the answer outside of us.

It is an indirect expression of our doubts…


Peter Block



This is how Peter Block open his book

The Answer to How is Yes:
Acting on What Matters


With his usual Enlightened perspective, Block is making us aware of the fact that, when we are not committed to go into action, we hide behind the questions, and use them as the argument for not doing anything.

We often avoid the question of whether something is worth doing
by going straight to the question “How do we do it?”
In fact, when we believe that something is definitely not worth doing,
we are particularly eager to start asking “How ?”

This subtle defense mechanism, disguise our doubts of purpose under the false appearance of rational analysis.

The most common rationalization
for doing things we do not believe in
is that
what we really desire

either takes too long
or cost too much

This is manifested by our action of asking the two questions:

“How long it will take ?”
“How much it will cost ?”

as our first line of defense against having to commit to action on something that we do not have conviction yet. 

These two questions are quite effective on giving us license for the cozy convenience of inaction, because those two questions can only be answered with certainty for things that have been repeatedly done before: buying a house, fixing a car, baking a cake…

The worthwhile challenges and endeavors, are by their very nature, things that have never been done before. Hence, for them we can’t never answer with certainty the questions of budget and schedule. By asking the questions, we create what feels like the rational justification for not doing it.

The question about “How ?”
is not for information,
but it is a defense against
an alternative an unpredictable future. 

At the core, it reveals that there is not yet conviction on the fundamental point of whether this is worth doing.

The question of commitment
declares that the essential investment needed
is  personal commitment,
not money,
not the agreement of others,
not the alignment of converging forces
supportive of a favorable outcome.

For anything that matters
the timing is never quite right,
the resources are always a little short,
and the people who affect the outcome
are always ambivalent.

These conditions offer proof that if we say yes,
it was our own doing and it was important to us

What a gift. 

A shift from asking the questions of “How?”, is to accept personal responsibility. Is to assume our role as participatory citizens, to become engaged, to be empowered.

Citizenship means that I act as if this larger place were mine to create,
while the conventional wisdom is that
I cannot have responsibility without authority.
That is a tired idea.
Let it die in peace.
I am responsible for the health of the institution and the community
even though I do not control it.
I can participate in creating something I do not control.

To live as conscious individuals and as empowered citizens we can start by

Getting Engaged in Stuff That Matters

and then

Just Do It !

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