A few years ago, I read an incredible article in Forbes entitled 35 Questions that will Change your Life. And yes, those 35 questions did indeed make me stop, think, and course-correct in some cases.
I am a huge believer that the questions we ask ourselves and others throughout our lives inform our decisions, our priorities, and ultimately our outcomes. In fact, in one aspect of my business, using provocative questioning is the cornerstone of being an effective leadership coach and executive consultant. It is NOT about me having all the answers (thank goodness, or I would most certainly fail in that role!); yet it IS about asking questions to stimulate the inner genius in each of us to rise up and be heard.
So, in that vein, I have pulled my top 5 questions from the article referenced above, which I hope will stimulate thought and introspection as we embark on 2016.
1. What are you pretending NOT to know? We are often in denial about at least one aspect in our lives. We don’t want to ask the questions about which we are afraid of the answers! Yet – pretending is child’s folly. As adults – we own it – so we must look ourselves directly in the mirror, and face reality. This ultimately will open the door to countless opportunities.
2. In what ways are you being perceived, in which you are not aware? Whew – this is a question every single one of my clients has been asked AND it is the most concerning. The adage “perception is reality” is true. When I ask my clients if they have a “brand” – and they say no – I challenge this, as we ALL have a brand. It is what folks think about us when our names are mentioned. Is this how you want to be remembered? If not – then start writing YOUR story. For in the absence of a story, they will write their own.
3. What is your Why? There is a powerful TED Video by Simon Sinek which is well worth your time to watch. We each need to have a compelling and BIG why – as we will always figure out the ‘what and how’ IF our WHY informs our life’s choices in a rooted, inspiring, and fulfilling way. And, as my clients know from my coaching and writing, my definition of alignment is: loving what you do, being good at it, AND most importantly – having your work tied to something greater than yourself. That last piece…IS your WHY!
4. What should I focus on – today or tomorrow? Well, in my first book, “Is This Seat Taken?”, I focus on the magic of the present moment and the random encounters that change your life. So, yes, I err on the side of living in the present. However, I also believe life is all about balancing the ability to reflect on what we have learned and experienced (the past), as well as planning for the future. We need to know when and how to plant the seeds for tomorrow’s harvest. Without that, we are not being responsible with our lives.
5. What do you want your life to be in 5 years? “If we do not know where we are going, we will never get there” – as the famous quote from Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) so wisely states. We have to have aspirational goals. What can we do – today – to get started? The book Five is an incredible read to help us lay out our 5-year plan. Sure – it may change (they almost always do in some shape, form, or fashion); yet, at least you have a point on the horizon to which you are directed. That is key.
Now – let us hear from you! What is the one question which has made a difference in your life? Your career? Or perhaps someone else’s? Remember, as Voltaire offered: “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” Please share!!