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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Asking the right questions?

What to do when you're feeling stuck...

So you've set a bold goal, developed a plan, taken action and things are starting to move along quite nicely. You have accessed your creativity and resourcefulness and ideas were flowing, now you need more inspiration and it just doesn't seem to be coming. You made some plans and they didn't exactly work out the way you expected... what now?

What Question do I need to ask myself now?

I find that the best thing to do when I start to feel stuck is pay attention to what question I need to ask? What is the answer I'm looking for at the moment?  

In Life and Executive Coaching, one of the more scary situations that arises is where the client feels stuck and the coach has run out of questions to ask? Sometimes the best way to deal with this is to simply let the client come up with the question by asking "What question do you need the answer to right now?" It can be quite surreal when the client responds with the question, the coach then asks the question and the client has a breakthrough by answering it. 

The situation above doesn't only have to happen in a coaching scenario, it can be self manged. If you are feeling stuck or without direction, ask yourself the question "What question am I looking for the answer to right now?" and then ask yourself that question. Putting the question out there activates your subconscious mind to find an answer because the human subconscious really doesn't like unanswered questions.

Napoleon Hill, in Think and Grow Rich, relates a story about Henry Ford's response to a question put to him while he was in the witness stand in a libel suit against a newspaper that had referred to him as ignorant. The lawyer had been badgering Ford with general knowledge questions in order to prove his ignorance. Ford eventually retorted that he had a row of buttons on his desk that when pushed, would summon to his office the person with the answer to any question that he might need the answer to. Henry Ford, despite his shortage of formal education, had realized the power of getting answers to questions and set up a system for getting answer to them. These days, finding answers is a lot easier, yet the challenge is to identify which answer is the right one.

Developing the skill of asking questions

Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana identified a potential shortcoming in generally accepted education processes relating to the skill of asking the right questions. In school, there is often a belief that the teachers are there to give the students the answers to questions that they will be asked in examinations. In their book Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions , They suggest that a change in emphasis to asking students to come up with question would both build this critical skill and stimulate a much more participative learning atmosphere in the classroom.

Questions as a Guide to Decision Making

In her book, The Right Questions: Ten Essential Questions To Guide You To An Extraordinary Life, Debbie Ford puts forward that where we are at any moment in our lives is a result of the choices we have made along the way. She discusses the following ten questions that can be asked relating to any choice we are faced with in our lives.

1. Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?
2. Will this choice bring me long term fulfillment or will it bring me short term gratification?
3. Am I standing in my own power or am I trying to please another?
4. Am I looking for what's right, or am I looking for what's wrong?
5. Will this choice add to my life force, or will it rob me of my energy?
6. Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve or will I use it to beat myself up?
7. Does this choice empower me or dis-empower me?
8. Is this an act of self-love or self-sabotage?
9. Is this an act of faith or an act of fear?
10. Am I choosing from my Divinity or am I choosing from my humanity?

While these questions are all binary (Either/Or) in nature and clearly guide you to which is the preferable option, the answers will highlight the consequences of any choice and will allow you to make decisions with much greater clarity of mind.

Useful Resources

15 Great Quotes on the Importance of Asking the Right Question


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