In This Episode…
Good quality questions have featured a lot in my thoughts recently for a variety of reasons. So I have been pondering a lot on some very powerful questions just recently. Unfortunately I discovered a problem with that sort of focus.
And that’s what I share with you in today’s episode.
Episode Show Notes…
So What Is A Powerful Question?
I first came across the idea of powerful questions from studying the work of Tony Robbins many years ago. He helped me understand that our thinking is basically formed of a lot of questions. Now you might be asking yourself “is it?” Well that’s a question.
And so the quality of our thinking boils down to the quality of the questions we ask.
Robbins says that.
Here’s what he means.
If you are having a really bad day you could ask yourself one of these two questions:
- Why am I having such a bad day today?
- What can I learn from today so that tomorrow will be a great day?
Two very different questions about the same set of circumstances.
The one you ask yourself will direct your thinking and that will dictate how you feel about the day.
If you ask the first question then you will focus on all the reasons that your day is a bad day. It will amplify them in your mind and you will seek out even more reasons to answer the question you have asked.
…and guess what?
It’s likely the day will become even worse.
If you ask yourself the second question however, your focus isn’t on what’s bad but on what you can learn from the day. The second part of the question “so tomorrow will be an even better day” means you qualify the lessons you choose so their impact will be positive.
And do you think some good might come out of that form of thinking?
You could have asked “what’s great about today…?”.
Whilst that is a great question to ask, it might be a step too far at this stage.
So let’s take it in stages.
So any powerful question is one that gets you to think in a way more conducive to getting a positive result for you in whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
Now a positive result, could be to halt a train of negative thinking and just get you to be neutral about what is happening in your life.
This isn’t about making every thing hunky dory and looking at life through rose tinted spectacles.
It is about creating a train of thought that supports you.
Question Exposure #1
The first set of great questions I encountered recently came from the brilliant Gavin Ingham. I am going through his Sales Compass training to sharpen my sales skills.
In a recent group coaching call he asked us to ponder on these 4 questions:
- What’s the one thing you could do right now that would make the biggest difference to [your sales]
- What has to happen for you to start doing that right now?
- Why are you not doing that right now?
- How will you make sure the answer to Q3 doesn’t continue to stop you from starting?
Now these are great coaching questions and really get you to focus on moving forward. The “one thing” focus gets you to narrow down on something specific. It also forces you to prioritise the options you may have.
It is a powerful question to ask.
Question Exposure #2
I have done a number of interviews for a new podcast I am starting up shortly and the subject of questions have come up in two of the three I have done in the last couple of weeks.
The first time was during a conversation I has with serial entrepreneur and CEO coach Adam Harris.
His whole interview majored on the power of quality questions because that is his superpower.
There were two that went hand in hand that I found really powerful. The first one was:
“On a scale of 1 – 10 how do you rate….[XYZ]?”
This is a great question to ask because it gets you to quantify where you are on a continuum. The answer may well be subjective, but it gets you to rate your perception of your current reality.
This question opens up a train of thought, but it is the second question where the magic happens.
So if the answer to the first question is for example 4, the next question would go like this:
“What would need to happen for you to take that up to a 5?”
Now we are opening up a treasure chest of possibility thinking.
Even if the answer to the first question was a 1 because the person was in a really bad place, the second question focuses their thoughts on making it better.
That’s a positive step forward.
Question Exposure #3
The other exposure I had to quality questions was the interview I did with Business and entrepreneurial expert Robert Craven.
Like me he is a huge fan of the book The One Thing by Gary Keller.
He uses Keller’s focusing question in a number of contexts – working with business owners to help them focus on what’s important as well as in his own self reflection.
The question is this:
“What is the One Thing you can do, such by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
This is a BRILLIANT question and puts your focus on steroids.
You have to think through your options and then work out which one will not only have the most impact, but will render everything else easier or unnecessary.
What a beautiful, beautiful question.
If you just used that question every day, then you’d charge forward like an all Black winger carving their way through a beleaguered defensive line.
But Here’s The Problem With Quality Questions…
Could there possibly be a problem with such great questions?
Well that’s a quality question in its own right.
And unfortunately, the answer is yes, there is a problem.
And here it is,
It’s not that you have to think hard to get the answer.
It’s not that you have face up to some uncomfortable truths to work out an answer.
The problem is, you then have to act on the answers you come up with.
It’s the missing step they forget to tell you about.
There’s usually a smug look on the questioner about how great they feel about themselves because they have got you to come up with ideas and suggestions you wouldn’t have identified without their help.
“My work here is done…” they might think.
And off they trot into the sunset of success to find someone else to get thinking right.
I am being facetious here because a great coach wouldn’t do that.
They’d then get you to commit to doing what you’d identified. And then they’d probably hold you to account for what you’ve committed to.
But if you don’t currently have a coach that’s supporting you, you’re left to your own devices.
And you have to face up to putting into practice the answers that already were probably a bit of a challenge to come up with.
So whilst you might have come up with some great answers, you then fall at the first hurdle of putting them into practice.
Well when I say you….I really mean me.