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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

How to figure everything out [Wise Wednesdays]

Some of the most common questions I hear start with: ‘How do I…’

For example, ‘How do I figure out my next steps?’

It’s a tendency that will be exacerbated by uncertainty, including in these times of uncertainty, reckoning and re-evaluation of our entire way of living. Uncertainty the fight-flight-freeze reaction and fixates the mind on the practical and immediate: ‘How do I get out of this trap now?!!!’ It revvs up the amygdala and shuts down the frontal cortex’ imaginative, reflective and insight faculties that bring true solutions.

You may have heard that focusing on ‘why’ questions is more important than the ‘how’ and read Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why.

But did you know that the word ‘how’ derives from the Proto-Germanic *hwō which has the same root as hwæt (‘who, what’). The word ‘how’ is also related to ‘why’.

It’s a great analogy for what happens when people open up to deep inner-work rather than mindlessly chasing external goals that lead to burnout.

In other words, to answer the ‘how’, you’d be better served by shifting to deeper questions and discovering the ‘what’ and the ‘who’ i.e.:

1) What do you really want (most people are cut off from their true desires and deepest dreams as a result of conditioning and setbacks. The ultimate desire is for inner-peace and the ability to take action from a state of presence i.e. experience flow).

2) Who do you need to be and committing to it (most of us are living from a small, shrunken, calcified version of ourselves which makes it impossible to realise our ultimate desires. The ultimate self is an expansive awareness that generates equanimity in the face of all circumstances i.e. infinite confidence).

3) Shifting ‘how’ to ‘what’ and ‘who’ i.e. to better questions, is a powerful portal to transformation. Pretty soon, your why is activated and motivates you further.


5) Why is it so important to you? (conditioned beliefs lead you to seek validation and short-term rewards masquerading as eternal love and happiness. Understanding what truly motivates you and what you can let go of, clears the way for healthy drive and sustainable action)

But why not just figure out the ‘how’, you ask? Why does it have to be so complicated?

It’s not complicated. Spending time figuring out a solution to a problem when your assumptions are incorrect is complicated and going to waste a lot of your time and energy. Challenging and correcting your assumptions (also known as limiting beliefs) of *what* you think is possible and *who* you really are will lead to a more fulfilling and peaceful life much faster.

Legend in the Making: A senior leader in finance was wondering how to increase his impact in the ethical investment field. When we explored *what* he really wanted, he soon realised that it wasn’t more opportunities but more space to create his own, much larger, vision and execute on it. He also realised that *who* he needed to be was someone more sovereign and in charge of his own destiny. Why? Because there is really no other way to live fully. This is his true purpose. We crafted a new identity and vision for him. He fired his inner-line manager and took control of his creative process while leading a team in a global financial organisation. He launched a report to great acclaim which landed him new media and international speaking opportunities that were out of view before. He’s got more power and creative energy to write his book. If we’d simply started with his first question, he would have ended up with a smaller result at a more local scale. Congratulations to L, on breaking through to a whole new level of (more sustainable) impact that contributes to a more sustainable world!

Ultimately, it doesn't matter which question you start with. It's about going deeper than the first question on the table. In Medicine, we never stop at the patient's presenting question, we ask extensive questions that elicit the root cause of the problem. It's the purpose of the diagnostic process. Only then, can we offer a course of action.

What about you? What's the deeper question you're exploring? Where might you selling your self short in the depth of questioning?

Have a great week,


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