Want better results? Ask better questions


In a world where we are constantly searching for answers, I was reminded last week at a conference I attended that often times the answer is to question.  Huh?!?  OK, I know It may sound like some goofy new age thought but often times you can get what you want by simply asking better questions.  Whether you want more out of yourself or more from others the key lies in the questions you ask.

Getting more out of your self

This one is important and something that fascinates me.  How do we continue to stay focused and on track toward achieving our goals?  In a perfect world we stay focused and motivated automatically.  Unfortunately the cold, hard reality is that this does not usually happen.  One of the things that I have found helps me is if I ask myself the following questions on a daily basis.  Now of course for this to be effective we need to have our objectives or goals very clearly outlined.  That is another topic of discussion but for now let’s assume that your vision of what you want and who you want to be is very clear.  Once you have clearly identified what you want to accomplish you need to measure and test your actions against that.  I do that with four daily questions.  One in the morning, and one at the end of my day and the other two are ongoing and usually help generate the answers to the first one.

Morning Question:  What will I do today to get me closer to my goal?

Daily Questions (I keep a watchful eye on this one):
What is in my way of accomplishing what I want?
How can I remove what is in my way?

Evening Question:  What have I done today to get me closer to my goal?

A very simple concept yet very powerful.  This helps me stay accountable to myself.  During the day I know what I have answered in the morning and I know I will have to answer my end of day question before I pack it in for the night.  For me this simple process helps me stay focused and on track.

You can extend this concept to just about anything.  The keynote speaker at our conference last week was a fellow by the name of Drew Dudley who I have had the privilege to get to know over the last few years after he spoke at the Axiom National conference in New Orleans.  Drew’s message is fairly simple.  He talks about creating a culture of leadership.  Showing leadership in everything you do.  You need to “Plan to matter”.

If you’ve heard Drew speak, you’ve probably heard him share the following six questions as a way to plan to matter each day:

  1. What have I done today to recognize someone else’s leadership?
  2. What have I done today to make it more likely I will learn something?
  3. What have I done today to make it more likely someone else will learn something?
  4. What positive thing have I said about someone to their face today?
  5. What positive thing have I said about someone who wasn’t in the room today?
  6. What have I done today to be good to myself?

Drew planned a workshop for us in New Orleans where we were lead to identify and define the values that we want to embody and designed questions similar to the above that will help us measure whether we are representing those values on a daily basis.

It was a fascinating excercise and one I suggest you try for yourself.  We often throw around terms like Integrity, Character, Hard working, Honest, Successful but how do we quantify that?  How do we define these terms?  Then most importantly what questions can we ask ourselves daily to ensure we are embodying the qualities that are important to us.

So my challenge to you is to take the following three steps:

  1. Write down the top 3 words you want people to use to describe you
  2. Define those words in plain language (not a dictionary definition, but what they mean to you)
  3. Come up with a question or series of questions that you can ask yourself daily to ensure you are living these values.

Once you have done that I would encourage you to share at least one of your values, definitions and questions below.

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Amy Holden
9 years ago

FRIENDLY – making people feel welcome into your life and thoughts by positively embracing the things you have in common with them.

1. What new thing did I discover I have in common with someone today?
2. Who did I talk to today that smiled whole heartedly while we were together?

Jan Gosse
Jan Gosse
9 years ago

HI Mike, Great article. Loved how you included Drew’s message from the AMBA conference.

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