Rudyard Kipling, the famous author had quoted in his poem- “The Elephant’s Child”
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who
I strongly feel the need for us- the whole of mankind to take assistance from these six men in our day-to-day lives. All our actions must be based on the resultant answer we get, by asking these six men. I believe the resultant answer will weigh heavily in terms of ethic, logic and practicality and thus justify humans in the sanctity of truth, honesty, integrity and righteousness.
To put it in simpler words, I’d say that one needs to constantly ask himself these 6 questions- What, Why, When, How, Where and Who, before performing any action in his life. When he receives a Clear answer to those questions, he should go about those actions without a second thought. Every action is justified in this case. But, the moment he fails to get a clear answer to those questions from his conscience, he should stop. If he does go about doing that task or activity despite the ‘warning’, he is bound to be at a loss. The loss/failure may not be of materialistic nature but purely based on ethic, logic and practicality.
This concept is widely used in Journalism, Research, Police Investigation, Strategy building and other fields as well. The very basis of these fields is – Questioning Everything. Unless and until you question, you’ll not get the answers and it’s based on these answers that you need to build your foundation and eventually, reach a solution to the given problem. This is referred to as the process of Information gathering to get a Complete story of some occurrence/incident/thing.
Coming back to the six honest serving men,
- Who? Refers to the Participants/Stakeholders
- What? Refers to the Event/Happening/Occasion
- Where? Refers to the Venue/Location
- When? Refers to the Time and Date
- Why? Refers to the Reason/Purpose
- How? Refers to the Process/Modus Operandi/Course/Route
Following the above rule, let’s see how we can apply this in our lives. Consider a simple example-
A 15-year old kid, just out of school, wants a bike.
We start the process by asking questions. The questions need to be asked to all the stakeholders or the people involved with the idea.
Ans: The kid, his Parents and the Showroom
Ans: The answer for this question could possibly be -The bike is available at the showroom
Ans: The answer for this question could possibly be – As soon as possible or in the next 10 days or in the next 2 weeks, etc.
Ans: The answer for this question could possibly be – Since the kid stays far away from college, a bike would help him commute comfortably, also saving a lot of time and energy.
Ans: The answer for this question could possibly be- Convince the parents, i.e Sell the idea to the parents. Receive a feed back- Yes or No. Depending on that answer: if it’s a Yes, Select the bike of your choice, go and buy the bike after making the payment.
If it’s a No, forget about the bike or keep trying to convince your parents
Another question that becomes a part of this process is- ‘Which’. But, it is a sub-module of How in most cases. ‘Which’ refers to choice. In the above case, the choice of Bike answers the ‘Which’ question. This answer is again dependent on other factors. In the above case, the factors may be Brand, Mileage, Looks, Budget, Comfort, Manoeuvrability, etc.
The Application of this law in our lives should reap rich benefits, and the best part is the ‘Feel Good factor’. When we do something good, for ourselves or others, we get a really good response from our Conscience and that is one feeling that cannot be felt in any other way.
So, always remember- The first step of the Learning process is Questioning. Develop a sense of curiosity. Keep Questioning and seek answers for the same.