The path to the desired result is often difficult. And you want to have a tool, if not a magic pill, at your fingertips that is guaranteed to help you move forward. The good news is that each of us has such a tool. All that remains is to learn how to use it – that is, to start asking the right questions.
Imagine this: you walk into the kitchen one morning and find you’re out of coffee and you’re not going anywhere without it. What do you do? You’re unlikely to waste time looking for someone to blame, or cancel an emotional meeting to forget yourself watching a TV show. You’re more likely to order a delivery or grab a coffee on your way to the office.
This simple example illustrates well the difference between reacting constructively and reacting unconstructively to a problem. But when our goal turns out to be more than just having a cup of coffee, we can get lost and choose a strategy that is wittingly incapable of leading to an effective solution.
ADVICE VS QUESTIONS
Many of us have been taught since childhood that there’s always someone who knows what’s best for us. First it was parents, then teachers, life partners, bosses… The list could be endless. Therefore, faced with difficulties, or even set a goal, out of habit want to ask for someone else’s opinion. However, the value of the decision, taken on someone else’s advice is minimal, and the effectiveness tends to zero. This does not mean that communication should be abandoned, just that it should be done differently: not by asking for advice, but by asking questions.
I am a member of a popular business community, where topics ranging from work to personal matters are often discussed. And there is an unspoken rule: do not give advice. Let’s say I have been unable to find an accountant for two months. I won’t come to the community asking, “What should I do?” I’m going to ask, “Have you ever been in this situation? How have you dealt with it?” People will upload me their experiences, I will listen, analyse and find the best solution for myself.
But asking the right questions is not only important for others, but also for yourself
Once, after a speech, a girl, the owner of a beauty salon, came up to me with the words: “I want to expand my business, but I don’t understand what to do. When you often talk to business people, you get used to other questions. Here, however, there was clearly something else. So instead of an answer, I suggested to her: “Think about how you limit your own growth?” The fire in her eyes immediately went out.
It turned out that she didn’t want to expand her business to provide more clients with a great service or to implement some ambitious ideas – she wanted financial independence from a young man. In other words, her request was originally not about business, but about relationships. And one right question helped to shift the focus.
A GAME OF SELF-DISCOVERY
If questions work so well, why are we often afraid to ask them of ourselves? More often than not, it’s because we subconsciously already know the answer, and we don’t like it. As long as it is not voiced, we can pretend that everything is fine. If the answer is given, then we have to act. And any change – even one that eventually leads to growth – is always stressful.
A great way to overcome the fear of questions and honest answers is to participate in a coaching game. Everything to do with play is familiar and safe for our brains, because it’s a way for us to learn about reality from an early age.
During the coaching game, the moderator asks good questions, guides you and highlights situations where you make mistakes or cheat. You don’t get ready-made answers, but you learn to think for yourself and make decisions. And in the end, you have a ready-made plan that you made yourself, which is why it will work. Of course, if you take action as soon as possible. In my experience, if a person takes the first step in the next 24 hours, there is no stopping them.
Let’s take a popular query: “How do I find my vocation and fulfil it?” One of the first questions I propose to answer is, “Who or what distracts me from my main goal?” In most cases, the story that comes up is that the person simply doesn’t have enough time physically. For example, a woman is busy 24/7 with children. It comes to the realization that one should start with rational planning, delegation and other small steps.
The first five questions
Do you want to feel the effects of the questioning strategy for yourself? First, formulate a query – it could be a problem you are trying to solve or a goal you want to achieve. And answer five questions as honestly as possible:
- What actions can I take tomorrow to get closer to my goal?
- Who or what is limiting my growth?
- Where am I betraying myself? Is someone or something influencing this?
- What area of life do I need to focus on right now?
- What deal with myself can I make right now?
The right questions give your brain a whole new challenge and it starts to think differently. Practice asking and answering questions, and you’ll notice that you’re coming up faster and faster with effective solutions that hadn’t occurred to you before. The amazing thing is that they have always been inside you.