This week’s MemberViews Monday post is by Lowell Aplebaum, CAE. Lowell is the author of the Association 141+ blog and has years of experience as an association professional. He’s a master of all things association, particularly member engagement and association future vision. You can find him on Twitter here! His post is all about the questions emerging association professionals are asking… or SHOULD BE asking. 

The Power of Why

            I believe that the further we get in our careers, the more we discover that the questions we ask have the potential for learning and growth much more than the answers we receive.  Honing focus on our assignments, gaining organizational vision, insight into industry direction and determining our own personal career paths are each potential adventures of discovery – fueled by the question why.  Depending on how we utilize this three letter word, we can paint a self-portrait of an up and coming organizational leader, or a stubborn employee who isn’t a team player.  Here are five perspectives on the question why:

“Why are our resources aligned with these priorities?”  You have read the mission and the vision, you have reviewed the strategic plan.  The true value that an organization is trying to produce is often a deeper narrative than what resides in these pieces – and how an organization assigns its staff and finances can tell the backstory to how it is trying to achieve its goals.  Asking for better understanding into the formula behind organizational success can demonstrate that you are looking to be a key contributor to that success.  In addition, these insights can show opportunities for cross-silo collaboration and cooperation, building bridges and help you produce stronger results.

“Why do I have to do this?”  When we know how the work that we have on our plate impacts the success of our organization we often find greater feelings of achievement/accomplishment.  With that said, there are also times that we have to do what logistically needs to get done.  This question can be a double edged sword – asked in the right context it shows intent to be a key organizational contributor, asked in another light it can be taken as petulant.  Navigating the delicate balance is essential to demonstrating that you can get the job done with the right attitude.

“Why do I have this job?”  A question for personal reflection, it is important to take stock and align how your current position reflects that career path you are pursuing.  What are you looking to learn at this job?  What successes will be milestones that will show future employers what you bring to the table?  How is your current position not just a job, but an intentional step in your successful career path?

“Why are certain topics trending in industry discussions/publications/conferences/online forums?”  Knowing the path you want to take in your career means knowing where your industry is going.  What publications do you read?  What blogs make you think, question and push your own pre-conceived concepts?  Keeping abreast of industry issues, problems and opportunities coming down the line will never be part of a job description, but should be part of our personal resolution.  Discovering our personal professional paths in an intentional fashion means also exploring the professional universe where we will have our journey – so start drawing your map!

“Why do I rock?”  What are your strengths?  How do you keep those strengths in your mind as a toolbox and intentionally bring them to the table with every assignment you have?  What tools do you want to develop to add to your repertoire?  We each need to know what we bring to the table, both so we can use those strengths for awesome results and so we can build teams around us to help balance our areas for growth with others strengths. 


Great post, Lowell! Along with these awesome “why” questions, we also encourage you to try a few “why not”s as well! You never know what the next big thing will be and often major breakthroughs come after someone says, “Why not? Let’s give it a shot!” Stay tuned to our blog (and many others around the internet) for more MemberViews Mondays!