The Importance of Being Alone


Root-cause analysis has become one of my favorites of the terms we’ve learned in our training sessions this year. It’s the notion of finding sustainable solutions to an issue by identifying and tending to the source of the issue, as opposed to bandaging the symptoms. I strongly agree with the philosophy, but I also realize that it is significantly more difficult to do, not simply in fixing the root-cause of the problem at hand, but in identifying what and where that root is. Much like people tend to refrain from being too overtly honest and open with strangers, issues tend to keep their origins buried deep under their surfaces. As people create more intimate relationships, as superficial facades begin to fall, more intimate becomes the knowledge people have of the foundational aspects of one another’s characters and history. One begins to approach the root, in a sense, even though it does take immense time and effort to get to that root. From the beginning of the program, we apply this ideology to life in our host communities. We strive to leave a lasting, positive impact but it takes a lot of time and effort to see not only where your help will be needed, but where it will be welcomed as well. This made a lot of sense to me. It seemed very logical, like something I knew already but had never taken the time to put into words.


Applying this method to intrapersonal conflicts did not seem logical at all. That was an idea I never considered but I have now decided to take the time to put into words.


I tried using my unique skillset to bring a new resource to a disadvantaged classroom without knowing what that skillset was. I tried healing from the heartbreak of leaving a community I felt was finally my home, of letting go of a challenging but wonderfully edifying romance, and of saying goodbye to dear friends without understanding why I saw these relationships as so indispensable. I tried having a real answer to the classic ’10 years from now’ question without knowing what it is that gives me the energy to get out of bed in the morning, let alone make it into the next 10 years. The connections I’ve made during my time in India grow deeper with every passing day that we break down our protective facades to expose our roots to one another. Why have I never taken the time to look inside and discover what my own roots might be? I’ve been so willing to dedicate the time and effort to get to know the communities I’ve crossed paths with, but have never consciously dedicated the time and effort to be with myself and get to know myself.


Root-cause analysis does take immense time and effort but is the only way to create a positive, sustainable change. In addressing the source of our global conflicts we inherently address the symptoms. Our realities can only ever be what we make them. Lasting change in this world will only come when we’ve taken the time to analyze the root-causes of our intrapersonal conflicts that keep us making the same mistakes time and again: history repeats itself, as the saying goes. In addressing the roots of our intrapersonal conflicts, in dedicating time and effort into getting to know ourselves, we inherently address the roots of global conflict. We inherently create positive, sustainable change.


I was never taught root-cause analysis in the classroom.