Questions shape our lives and are the key to change.
We ask questions to progress, to grow, to know. When we have something we don’t know about, don’t know how to do, are unclear on or unsatisfied with, we ask questions to move us forward. It’s in our human nature to do so; it’s part of the natural curiosity we have. It’s in the precociousness in children, the drive in all of us to be better, bolder, bigger. It can be found in the need for answers, for clarity, for certainty, for confidence, and for courage. Moreover, the quality of the question matters as it impacts the quality of the guidance.
Questions can be inwardly or outwardly directed. Sometimes they are focused on finding the confidence inside of yourself that allows you to take a step. Other times they help you to know how to take that next step. Questions drive the actions or reflection or feelings that follow from getting the answer.
Hence, knowing HOW to ask a question is as important if not more important than asking in the first place.
Here is the same question asked in two different ways. The essence is about getting something done. So if you can bring to mind something challenging you need to get done, that will help you get even more from this experiment. As you read each question, answer it truthfully and follow the feelings, thoughts, and ideas that come from the answer.
“Am I good enough to do this?”
“What’s needed from me to get this done?”
I suspect that your answers gave you different results. That’s the power of a question. You may have had a resounding YES! from the inwardly focused “Am I good enough?” question. Or it may have left you with doubts and hesitation. The learning here is that inwardly-focused, judgement-based, closed (yes/no answers) questions are likely to get you into a state or feeling that is not as productive or effective. Closed questions require some more thinking or unravelling, which is not necessarily what you have time for. And it is likely to impact how you approach whatever you get done. Even if you answered positively and you do FEEL good enough to do it, it does not give you direction towards progress.
“We ask questions to progress, to grow, to know. It’s in our human nature to do so, it’s part of the natural curiosity we have. It’s the precociousness in children, the drive in all of us to be better, bolder, bigger.”
The second question is more likely to give you clarity. And more importantly, it is likely to bypass the tricky ‘feelings’ that may have surfaced as you asked the first question. By asking an open-ended, outcome-focused question, you will have more information and direction as to what’s needed. The answer is also more likely to be more activity based, factual, and less judgemental. So even if your answer was in part to ‘get some help because I don’t have the skills to do this on my own’, that’s more helpful and has more possibility in it than a shutdown answer like “I’m not good enough (so why would I even bother!)”
To help you implement this in your day-to-day dealings, experiment with the following:
- When you hear yourself ask a question, work out if it’s a closed or open one. Then turn it into the opposite type of question and see what difference it makes.
- Play with the different types of open question: asking who, why, what, when, where, and how. Keeping the question the same, exchange one of these words for another and see what difference in feelings or insight the new question brings.
- Follow the feeling. If your answer to the question does not make you feel good, what other question or change to the question can you make to have a feeling you want to act on or from?
As always, feel free to share your experimentation, ask a question or make your observations either here in the comments or start the conversation in the Shine And Rise Daily Facebook group.