Frequently the tactic for assessing an opportunity or a junction in the trail stops after the fine print has been read. Occasionally the deliberations includes the strategic implications of the initiative. To which destination might this path lead? However, those who think and act differently ask, ‘what if?’ What else could this opportunity represent? All three lenses are essential to making great decisions, unless you are just trying to start a fire.
Two great articles that articulate the challenges we face each day and the barriers that can push us off-course.
The first is a very funny article by Jay Goltz. His obsession with delegation is fraught with unexpected results.
The second is thought guru and innovator Seth Godin’s encapsulation of the essence of everything we do.
The difference between a day where I thrive or survive is predicated on my ability to ask better questions and make better decisions. How do you thrive?
I was running this weekend in Anaheim, CA. Ten minutes from the manicured pathways of Disneyland Park I jogged into an underpass below Interstate 5. Halfway in the concrete tunnel I literally jumped over two people sleeping on the walkway. They had placed their shopping carts in such a ways as to create a small barrier but the traffic noise was deafening, a minor inconvenience I imagined to avoid the overnight rains. When I came back a half-hour later one individual was sitting-up staring towards the sun that had started to break out of the thin cloud layer. I thought, ‘this is not right.’ In the shadow of one of the iconic family vacation experiences sit individuals pushed to survive each day with no thought of vacation or luxury.
What questions should we be asking about priorities? What actions would have the most impact when it comes to extinguishing homelessness?
My daughter asked me what I did for work the other evening since I was returning home after dinner time. I initially started with my answer about consulting but stopped myself. Instead I told her I helped people with world problems. She looked at me to judge the seriousness of my answer and asked for me to clarify. I explained that life is a series of word problems, the opportunity is connecting ideas with other ideas to create the best possible answer. She thought for a minute and then asked if the questions were challenging. I paused and said it depends on the quality of the question and if the right people are willing to help with the answer. She laughed and asked it I wanted to help her answer a question for school. That was the best question I was asked all day.
If you listen to NPR’s Car Talk, you have encounter Click and Clack, the Tappet Brother’s (Tom and Ray) ability to offer credible and/or humorous advice on a variety of possible vehicle ailments. One of their super powers (beside working for one-hour a week) is effectively diagnosing automotive problems. Their sleuthing typically involves a series of pointed questions followed by some random pondering noises before offering an “ah ha.” They engage callers in a back-and-forth line of inquiry before delivering their diagnosis, then offer empathy and suggestions to fix the predicament.
Informed questions built a tribe of 3.3 million listeners for a show designed to address automotive issues (image making that original pitch to NPR). The power of great questions can empower a community.
What would it look like if we asked better questions? What if we consider how to inspire our fans instead of getting more of them? What if we wonder what my best look and feel like? How would my clients feel if they could see and feel that they were my top priority? What would be the impact of my next presentation if I brought my best first and confidently? How would a key conversation play out if I were fully engaged and actively listened without distraction? What if I approached each interaction as if there was paradigm shift about to take place? How would it feel if I brought my best energy to the event that is most likely to fatigue me? What if asking a better question changed my day?
“Open conversations generate loyalty, sales and most of all, learning… for both sides.” Seth Godin’s post was perfect. You either respond with an answer and close the conversation or you get curious and ask a question in response. The difference is about relationships. When dating there is an attraction to those who ask questions to get to know more about you. There is less synergy when there are only answers. If you are a little curious you might find out something fascinating. A simple group icebreaker is to play the game, Two Truths and a Lie. Have individuals share two facts about their life and one fib. It is not so much about what you have done but the questions that come from the exercise.
My purpose is to empower those that inspire. It is easy to support individuals and causes who I interact with daily but I wonder what I can offer to those of you who bring your talents and time to this page for a few moments each day. What do you need to be empowered?
Perhaps the most important questions to start each day: How can I serve you?