Your Problem is Not Your Real Problem - A Better Way to Troubleshoot Challenges

Your Problem is Not Your Real Problem - A Better Way to Troubleshoot Challenges

When it comes to health, fitness, business, or life, do you have a step-by-step way to solve problems? 

One tool that I'm fond of is called "The 5 Why's." It comes from the Toyota lean manufacturing world. 

The next time you're faced with a problem, ask the question "Why?" 5 times, each time getting a little deeper. For example, if there was a stoppage on the line at a manufacturing plant, Toyota might ask:

  1. Why did the robot stop welding? The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow
  2. Why was the circuit overloaded? There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings
  3. Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings? The oil pump is not circulating
  4. Why is the oil pump not circulating? The pump intake is clogged
  5. Why is the pump intake clogged? There is no filter on the pump

Aha! The problem is not a blown fuse, but a missing oil filter somewhere else on the line. 

Critically - if Toyota had just stopped at the first "Why" and replaced the fuse, they wouldn't have gotten to the real cause (the oil pump is missing a filter), and would be fixing the same problem again before long (the robot stops working again). 

For fitness, maybe your line of questioning is similar to this: 

  1. Why am I not reaching my fitness goals? My workouts are inconsistent
  2. Why are my workouts inconsistent? I'm frequently too tired, or injured
  3. Why am I too tired or injured? My workouts are breaking my body down and I can't recover
  4. Why am I having trouble recovering? I don't have a clear workout plan that balances adaptation and recovery
  5. Why don't I have a clear workout plan? I'm not really sure what's best for my body. I hear so much conflicting information, so it's hard to make sense of it all. 

Powerful stuff. In this example, if you're just beating yourself up because you can't get consistent, you'll continue to face the same problems again and again. Maybe instead of trying to force yourself to be "more disciplined" or "more motivated" you just need a better plan. 

Next time you encounter a problem, try using the "5 Why's" to get to the real root cause.

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