What the Car Industry Taught me About Taking Action [Motivation Hack]

What the Car Industry Taught Me about Taking ActionBack in the day, I used to work for a global manufacturing company that produced all sorts of highly-engineered products for cars and other motor vehicles.

As a process engineer, one of the interesting parts of my job was figuring out why things went wrong when they did.

When you’re talking about high-volume production in an extremely fast-paced, high-stress environment, things go wrong very, very often. And since problems cost the company a lot of money, learning how to avoid them is an obvious priority.

Finding the exact root cause of any particular issue was an essential part of the job because it allowed us to put systems in place to prevent those same (costly) issues from happening again in the future.

So what in the world does this have to do with motivation?

Well, it just so happens that the tools we used to extract the root cause of our everyday work problems are the same tools you can use to analyze your goals and motivate yourself to take action.

Let me show you just how simple it is to implement.

The 5 Why Analysis Tool

One of the most commonly used problem solving tools in the world of lean manufacturing is called the 5 Whys.


The idea was originally developed by the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda and was later used to develop the famous Toyota Product System.

Well, famous in the world of lean manufacturing anyway.

It’s quite hard to find a big name manufacturing shop these days that doesn’t implement this problem-solving tool in some shape or form.

So what exactly is the 5 Whys system and how does it work?

The architect of the Toyota Production System, Taiichi Ohno, described the 5 Whys as “… the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach… by repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.” source

Whenever a problem arises, the simple process of asking “why?” allows you to dissect a problem deeply enough to understand what the ultimate root cause is. And it allows you to do so very quickly and efficiently.

Of course, there’s no magic number here. Five just seems to be a good rule of thumb. Depending on the problem, you can get to the root cause in two whys or in seven whys. The idea is to keep asking the question enough times until you get to the true root cause of any problem.

This process of deeper questioning also gives you the ability to think more critically about why something has happened before jumping to conclusions. This process often reveals issues that were not initially considered.

How You Can Use the 5 Why Analysis as a Motivation Hack

The question why can be extremely powerful and revealing.

Whether you’re trying to solve a multi-million dollar high-volume manufacturing problem or if you’re just a child wondering why the sky is blue, the simple question of why can open doors to a world of possibilities.

When I talk to people about setting their goals, one of the first things I always ask them is why.

Why do you want to achieve that goal? Why is that goal important to you?

By repeatedly asking the question why, I am able to dig deep and get to the true reason behind any goal because this reason can can be extremely valuable.

It is the key to staying motivated over the long haul.

Achieving big goals is no easy task. It takes a lot of work, dedication, patience, and perseverance to overcome the obstacles that inevitably come in the way.

You must be able to stay consistent with your efforts. You must continue to take positive steps forward day in and day out so each day your bring yourself a little bit closer to that finish line.

But taking steps forward – even small ones – can at times be extremely difficult. We are often swamped with feelings of doubt and procrastination.

No matter what the goal is, we all face times when we want to quit.

That’s where the reason why – the purpose – comes into play. Without a strong purpose to keep you going (or a support group to keep you accountable), fighting through the rough times can be very difficult.

So let’s take a look at how you can set this up.

You probably already have a goal in mind. If you don’t, then you’ll want to do that first.

Once you have your goal, start asking yourself the question why.

Why do you want to achieve this goal?

Go deeper.

Why is this goal really important to you?

Keep asking yourself why until you arrive at the true reason behind your goal. You want to get to that deep-rooted purpose behind what you’re trying to achieve.

The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. Only you know the true reason behind why you want to achieve a particular goal.

And if you can’t think of any reasons?

Then you might want to re-think your goal in the first place.

Once you have your deep-rooted reason figured out, grab a pen and paper and use this simple template to write down your goal with the why aspect incorporated.

“I, ____________ [your name], will _______________ [your goal] by _________ [due date] because ____________ [your reason why].”

Let’s take a look at some examples that might help you out.

Let’s say your goal is to lose weight. Very vague, I know. But let’s roll with it anyway.

Start with the first why.

Q: Why do you want to lose weight?

A: Because I really want have a flatter stomach.

Q: Why do you want to have a flatter stomach?

A: Because I want to look good in a bikini.

Q: Why is it important for you to look good in a bikini?

A: Because summer is coming up soon and I want to feel good about the way I look when I’m out with my friends on the beach.

Bingo. We can work with that.

So using the template we would craft something like this:

“I, (name), will lose (specific #) of lbs by August 1st because I want to feel good about the way I look around my friends when we get into our bikinis this summer.”

Every time you want to quit, you think back to your reason. The thought of not looking good in a bikini and not fitting in with your friends should be enough of a pain point to keep you going.

If it’s not, then you got more digging to do.

Now let’s compare this to another scenario.

Q: Why do you want to lose weight?

A: Because I want to improve my health.

Q: Why do you want to improve your health? 

A: Because I want to live as long as possible.

Q: Why do you want to live longer? Why is that important to you?

A: Because I have grandchildren on the way and I want to be around to see them grow up.

Excellent. That’s deep.

So using the template we would craft something like this:

“I, (name), will lose (specific #) of lbs by (set date) because I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up.”

Same goal. Two completely different purposes.

You starting to see the picture now?

It’s a simple process and most of it is common sense, but we often forget to dig deep enough to discover why we truly want the things we want.

Again, be honest with yourself.

Don’t choose a purpose you think people would want to hear. Go with the purpose that is driving you. Because only that purpose will be effective in pushing you past the obstacles ahead.

I encourage you to give the strategy a try and see what you come up with.

And if you need help? Just message me. We can chat quickly over skype and I’ll guide you through the why process.

But before we leave here, I have a little task for you to do:

Scroll down to the comment section and let me know what your biggest goal is right now. Then let me know why you want to achieve that goal. Feel free to use the template above.

I’d love to see what you guys are trying to accomplish!

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2 thoughts on “What the Car Industry Taught me About Taking Action [Motivation Hack]”

  1. wow… what a good article.. i read it twice… it made me think… i need to set my goals and the reasons and write them down properly… Big Thank you

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