With the sixth season of “Game of Thrones” set to premiere in mere hours, it seemed appropriate to pull this week's focus from one of my favorite characters on the show - Tyrion Lannister as played by the brilliant Peter Dinklage. For those who haven't seen the show yet, I'll be as vague as possible regarding the circumstances of this quote and the situations it results from; as Thrones fans (Throners?) can be quite protective about their spoilers. Besides, as a recent convert of the show, I wouldn't want to spoil anything that happens; the show is quite brilliant. At any rate, that's enough of a preamble, let's get into it.
Tyrion finds himself in circumstances that he would have liked to avoid. You see, Tyrion, while incredibly intelligent, is also quite impatient at times. He puts himself in a position that makes it too easy for his potential enemies (and they are many) to find him. And, of course, one does. As with many great characters of fiction and myth, his hubris is often his undoing. He is kidnapped in the night and taken against his will across the land by a character looking to redeem himself. They travel through a nightmarish land and are almost killed by the locals of a hellish city that is at once mesmerizing and terrifying in its abandoned beauty. They escape and find themselves alone, without food, and lacking any good options to proceed forward. They are abandoned facing a very real possibility that they won't be able to make it out of their current circumstances alive. It is at this point, as they are both at the end of their respective ropes, that Tyrion's captor asks Tyrion why he was in the location where he was kidnapped. Tyrion turns and looks at him in total disbelief and says, "It never occurred to you before now to ask, 'Why?'"
Why: what a powerful word and even more powerful question. How often in life do we continue to move forward from one situation to another and as the years go by, fail to ask this one simple question that could help alter our current course and forge ahead into a new destiny? For some it could be a cycle of dependency on an external source (drugs, food, entertainment, sex). For others it could be codependency - constantly relying on the need for love and approval from others. And yet, for you it could be something else entirely - a relentless, laser-like focus on work which causes your family relationships to be constantly strained. It could even be something simple like being afraid to ask someone out or letting your shyness keep you from meeting new people and being happy. The problem is that like Tyrion's captor, we often ask, "Why," too late. It isn't until our backs are against the wall or we're too buried underneath the pain of our past choices that we ask. And when we get our answer, it seems impossible to make any changes that could possibly change our path.
That is this week's challenge: Heed the warning of Tyrion Lannister: don't wait until you're shipwrecked and the darkness is threatening to swallow you whole to ask the question that could change your life. This week, ask, "Why?" And ask it as often as possible. If you are in a situation you don't like, ask, "Why?" If you feel alone, ask "Why?" If you wake up each morning, dreading the day ahead, ask, "Why?" The key is to not just ask the question and take the easy answer. You have to delve in and keep asking “Why?” And then, you have to come up with a plan. And now, I'm not going to say it's easy.
BUT, I can promise you this: it's worth it. This week, ask "Why," more. Here is the beautiful part: it doesn't have to be about just the big stuff. If you are at work, and you find that a process seems to be superfluous or hinders your productivity, ask, "Why?" You may just find an answer that leads you to a change. And, ultimately, that is the power of "Why." Asking, "Why?" is the ultimate agent of change. Thanks, Tyrion Lannister, and here's to hoping you come out on top this season.