“I had six honest serving men: (They taught me all I knew) Their names were Where and What and When and Why and How and Who.”
—Rudyard Kipling, 20th Century English Journalist & Poet
Begin a conversation with any of the Six Honest Serving Men from Kipling’s quote and you’re off to a great start in learning something new. You may even develop or nurture a new or existing relationship.
Powerful open-ended questions beginning with one of the Six Honest Serving Men open doors to new knowledge. They also demonstrate a genuine interest in others, which we all relish.
For today, I suggest you direct these probing and door-opening words toward yourself, to see what new worlds of discovery lie within.
Ask and answer some of your most important and pressing questions of the day. Then consider asking “What Else?” to see what you can learn by probing deeper than your surface answers.
“Learning is a treasure whose keys are queries.”
Have you ever played the lottery hoping to strike it rich? Perhaps as a child you searched on a sandy beach, hoping to find a bit of buried treasure.
The daily pursuit of knowledge and nuggets of wisdom are a form of treasure hunt instantly available to you. Today’s quote points to the importance of curiosity and a mind filled with questions, as keys to opening the vaults and delights of learning.
Consider picking up a copy of A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger to become a more masterful locksmith in opening the treasure chest of life-long learning.
Another book I like very much that will help in this area and develop your own proficiency as a coach is The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier.
“Imagine that the universe is about to whisper the answer to your deepest questions. You do not want to miss it.”
In his book The Divine Matrix, author Gregg Barden takes the reader on a provocative journey bridging science and spirituality. He provides potential clues into how the world works, and man’s role in it.
As a seeker, Braden’s travels have taken him to remote monasteries and high-mountain villages, to review forgotten texts and discover timeless secrets regarding what he sees as the mysteries that connect all things.
Here are a few tantalizing ideas from his book you might explore:
- The bridge between imagination and reality
- Being passive observers versus powerful creators
- Living in a holographic universe
- Living, loving, and healing in quantum awareness
- The Universe is talking to us
Where in your busy and noisy world could you make more time for quiet reflection, and listen more closely for the critical answers to your deepest universal questions?
“Will this make people’s lives meaningfully better?”
—Dave Kashen, CEO at Worklife
Image from MAP Professional Development
As a coach for over 25 years, I have a great fondness for powerful and provocative questions. More often than not, I have a very strong preference for those deeply curious and probing questions that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Today’s quote is an exception in that it is closed-ended and requires us to determine if our answer is Yes or No.
Most people value making a difference and contributing to those around them. Perhaps we can all use this question to keep us focused on the priority of living an even more meaningful life.
Consider writing this question on a few Post-it-Notes and placing them where you will see them in your personal and professional spaces. Please feel free to write me about what value this exercise provided you and others over the coming weeks.
“A wise man’s questions contain half the answer.”
—Solomon ibn Gabirol, 11th Century Jewish Philosopher
Image from The Secret Yumiverse
When was the last time you wrestled with a jar that would not open? Whatever was inside was just on the other side of that pesky lid! Eventually, I’m sure, you found a stronger person, tapped the jar against the counter, or maybe ran it under hot water to get access to the contents.
In many ways, wise and thoughtful questions are like jar openers, giving us access to answers, valuable opportunities, and important discoveries.
The ability, skill, and mastery of knowing what questions to ask of ourselves and others is, as today’s quote suggests, half the battle.
How can you more fully discover what’s inside yourself and others by enhancing your curiosity and ability to formulate provocative, deeply probing questions?
“A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something.”
—Warren Berger, American Journalist
Image from Unsplash by Jonathan Simcoe
Coaches love beautiful and powerful questions. In fact, if coaches were Batman, our utility belts would be filled with them!
What if you were to begin questioning all areas of your life, to determine what is truly working and what is not? What might your answers show, and what choices or actions might you take moving forward?
As a reader of The Quotable Coach, you are astute and have probably noticed that I’ve filled this post with questions!
What are a few of your favorite, most beautiful questions? What questions keep you on your toes and move your life forward? How might you use coaching questions to support the lives of those for whom you care?
“How would you like things to be different in your life?”
—Fran Peavey, Social Activist
Fran Peavey was a social activist who passed away in 2010. Through her travels across the globe, she developed a process she called “strategic questioning,” which is characterized by questioning with an open mind and a caring heart.
Using this open, curious, and often provocative but not judgmental style, she conducted thousands of interviews over the course of two decades. She believed that this approach put people at ease, lowered barriers, and helped them find common ground around shared concerns.
Take 3-5 minutes to ask and answer one of Fran’s favorite questions: “How would you like things to be different in your life?” Consider engaging others in your personal and professional communities in this inquiry, so you can help one another make changes.
Feel free to let me know what happens by replying to this post!
“When I look back in five years, which of these options will make the best story?”
—John Hager, American Politician
Image from evollution.com
Are you facing a major fork in the road in your professional or personal life?
Consider brainstorming all the possible options, and perhaps a few that are outside your current vision, to see where they lead in the near and distant future.
Which potential choice fits best with your vision, values, beliefs, skills, strengths, and personality? Pay attention to feelings stirred up by these hypothetical journeys.
What scares you?
What excites you?
What delights you?
Ask and answer the questions above, and begin telling the story you intend to write with your life.
“There is more than one right answer.”
-Dewitt Jones, National Geographic Photographer
image from www.english-forlife.com
There is something satisfying about getting the right answer.
Take a trip down memory lane back to school, where the goal was to get 100% on a test, or a perfect score on the entrance exam for college. Striving for excellence or perfection can be the source of great upset and frustration since we humans quite often fall short of the mark.
There can be many paths to excellence and achievement. Today’s quote coaches us to relax a bit and determine what is right for us, which may not necessarily be what others or society dictate.
What are the right answers for you regarding the following questions?
- Where do you most enjoy spending your free or leisure time?
- What strategies work best for you in your marital and parenting relationships?
- What qualities and attributes bring you the greatest happiness and life satisfaction?
- Where else would it be of value to remember that there is no one right answer to any question or issue you face?
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”
– William S. Burroughs, American writer
Image from Flickr by anieto2k.
One of my favorite phrases about coaching is “coaches let their questions do the heavy lifting.” If this is true – and I assert that it is – then we can all coach others, be coached by others, and even coach ourselves. We need only ask the right questions, then relax as our answers reveal themselves.
It is through this personal inquiry that our question-answering muscles do the work and allow us to grow and evolve.
What one or two important questions do you need to ask and answer for yourself today?