Why Do They Call Them Seals? (Issue 1007)

In which we are reminded to ask “why”…more times.

I took some vacation time last week. I know, I know. Very unlike me. We headed to one of our favorite spots, the Lower Cape – the “elbow” of Cape Cod. We have many favorite haunts there, one of which is the Chatham Fish Pier.  In an earlier time, fishing was the primary focus in Chatham; it’s still important and it’s to the Chatham Fish Pier that the local professional fishermen bring their catch to be placed in ice and transported to market. Frequently, seals are visible from the Fish Pier observation deck, particularly when the returning boats are unloading.

While we’d missed the unloading for the day, the seals had stuck around.  There were two seals trolling back and forth near the Pier unloading area and several dozen seals sunning themselves on a broad beach on the other side of the harbor.

There were fifteen of us on the observation deck at that point including an eight-year-old boy with his little brother, his dad, and (I’m guessing) his grandmother.

As I walked behind them, I heard the eight-year-old say to his grandmother, “Why do they call them seals?”

She noticed me as I walked past. She looked up from his face to mine and said in a voice that hinted at fatigue and frustration (because he’s been asking questions like that since he woke  up),  “So, he wants to know why they call them seals.”

As in, “Why can’t he just accept that they’re called ‘seals’ and be done with it?” Right?  “They’re seals.  S-E-A-L-S. Now, what do you want for lunch?”

I would love to have a few  hours with that kid. He’s learning that he can’t get to the bottom of something unless he asks “why…?” (or similar questions) at least five times and he has a million questions like that:

Why do they call them seals? Why are they brown? Why do some of them have spots on their backs? Why are they shiny when they’re wet? Why do they have whiskers? Why don’t they get cold underwater?  Why can they stay underwater for so long? Why do they have flippers for feet?

We’d have a blast because, to generate those questions, he has to NOTICE stuff that hasn’t been explained yet and respond to whatever that urge is – curiosity – that prompts him to ask the additional questions rather than just accept whatever labels or explanations were first offered.

Fun game: Try this at home! Amaze your kids, your clients, or your grandmothers!  Pick any object in your home or any aspect of a client’s business and generate at least five “why” questions about it. For extra credit, go for ten “why” questions. Notice what you notice. Let me know how that goes.  😊

Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at https://clarityadvantage.com/knowledge-center/ .

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