“Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Humans love their reasons. After all, we can justify anything with a good enough reason. As proof there is every war ever fought, a host of financial crises from the sub-prime mortgage crisis to the Great Depression, and every genocide. On a more individual level there is the pandemic of behavior-related problems that result in obesity, addiction, and crime. All this is as a result of a love affair with the word “because”.
Once we says “because” we have ceded power. Wait, doesn’t giving a reason strengthen our argument? Doesn’t it provide a basis for our decisions? While these things are true, something else happens as the same time: the authority for the decision has moved from the decider to the reason that follows “because”. If the reason is weak, the decision is resultingly weak. Our reason can be questioned, which can result in the overturning of the decision, decidedly against the decider’s wishes.
The problem here is with the very nature of decision making. Decisions are not deemed valid without reasons. Therefore, all the power is invested in the reasons. Does this approach always result in good decisions? Of course not. Does having poor reasons or no reasons at all mean the decision must be bad? No, it merely means the proof of the decision’s merit has not been established.
Saying “because” is asking for permission. “Please approve of my decision on the basis of these reasons.” Sometimes approval is appropriately requested. But often such requests are merely sourced in a desire to look good, or at least to not look bad.
“Saying “because” is asking for permission.” click to tweet
People are addicted to “because”. They can’t order their own meal off a menu without telling the waiter, “I’ll have the fish because it was so good last time.” Here’s the thing: the waiter doesn’t care why you want it. He is not headed back to the kitchen to gossip with the chef, “Can you believe she ordered the fish? Who does she think she is?”
If you have the authority to make a decision without anyone’s approval, why not make a choice rather than a decision? The distinction is this: with a choice, there is no “because”. You just choose — no justifying, no establishing proof of validity, just choose and move forward. Here is my challenge to you: go one day without uttering the word “because”. Choose what you choose. Offer no reasons either up front or when challenged. When pressed for a reason for your decision say, “This isn’t a decision I’ve made, it is a choice. It is a choice I am free to make and I have made it.” Smile. Move on.
“Because” is insidious. In writing this short article, I had to edit out the word “because” twice as I set out to justify my statements. However as proof of the concept, that editing was done without harming the teaching. This is my day without “because”. When is yours? Share your experiences by commenting below.