Alter your thinking about thinking. Sometimes sitting with a question can expand your mind without always needing to find an answer.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Eugene Lagunov
A powerful question can act like a mind-altering substance. It can be a catalyst to help fire previously underused neurons and emit floods of neurotransmitters to help us think new thoughts.
Modifying our thinking on our own can be difficult. We are constantly bathing our minds with many of the same messages, 24/7. Consider relating this idea to Newton’s Law of Inertia which states:
“Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”
What are some ways you can alter your current thinking?
What are some internal and external forces that can support you to change your life for the better?
What questions can you sit with that may help you in this effort?
Embrace life’s questions and live your way into the answers. Don’t rush. Learn to take pleasure in the process of discovery.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Towfiqu Barbhuiya
Of all the coaching tools I’ve come to value most over the years, one is the good old open-ended question.
I love that the trigger words of Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How allow us to dig deeper into answers that can differ widely for each person.
When we combine questions like these in sequence with sincere interest and honorable listening, we often discover many of life’s most important answers.
Consider picking up a copy of The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stainer or A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger to help you and others live into the answers of your life.
“In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have taken for granted.”
—Bertrand Russell, 20th Century British Philosopher
Image from Unsplash by Jon Tyson
Did you do a year-in-review assessment for 2022?
If you did, where did you notice things not progressing as you had wished? You may have even noticed some areas regressing.
If this is the case, it may be because we keep doing and thinking the same things over and over since they worked reasonably well in the past.
So many things around us have changed in the past year. When we remain fundamentally the same, it’s not surprising that a good number of our efforts miss the mark.
Questioning our thinking and adapting our behaviors accordingly seems like a wiser strategy for the year ahead.
In what areas of life would a few more question marks help you break some of your personal patterns so that new worlds may emerge?
“If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.”
—Richard Leider, Faculty member of the Modern Elder Academy
Image from Unsplash by Mockup Graphics
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I doing what I love to do?
- Is what I do helpful to others?
- Does it energize me or drain me?
Consider modifying these closed questions to open ended questions such as….
- How often do I get to do what I love?
- How are my efforts helpful to others?
- How energized and alive do I feel when engaged in these activities?
What are some ways you can and will increase your heart rate to live an even more inspired and purposeful life?
“The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by answering.”
—David Whyte, Anglo-Irish poet
Image from Unsplash by Hadija Saidi
What are some of the questions you have been asking yourself and others over the past couple of years?
As a lifelong learner, I marvel at the power and insights offered by provocative open-ended questions. These tools dig below the surface of our day-to-day experiences to uncover new depths of understanding of one another and the world.
In the coaching profession we often say “let your questions do the heavy lifting.” The surprising thing for me, based on Whyte’s quote, is that both parties can be shaped through these exchanges.
What are some of your favorite “stop you in your tracks” questions?
How have these questions shaped your identity and opened up pathways for you?
Two books I’ve found very useful on this subject are A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger and The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stainer.
“Has the most important thing changed? Am I chasing an outdated target?”
—James Clear, author, entrepreneur, and photographer
Image from Unsplash by Ross Findon
Today’s quote contains two closed-ended questions. Did you answer yes or no to either or both?
Let’s change them a bit to make them open-ended….
What important things in your life have changed in the past year?
Where are you chasing a goal or target that is no longer relevant or essential?
Explore both the open and closed-ended approaches with a friend, family member, mentor, or coach.
Please let me know what new insights and actions result from this inquiry.
“What was the key takeaway from the specific situation?”
—U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs: 100 Sample Interview Questions
Image from Unsplash by Gigi
Of all the tools in a coach’s toolbox, none gets used more often than powerful questions. Open-ended question — those that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how — are very handy in establishing and deepening relationships for the rest of us as well.
Today’s quote is commonly used by seasoned interviewers when evaluating candidates for various job opportunities. This question seeks to determine the applicant’s openness and receptivity to various inputs and types of feedback from significant experiences and events in their past.
How can and will you use today’s question to squeeze more teachable moments out of your communities? Please be sure to ask and answer the question yourself, to act as your own coach.
“Be grateful for people’s complaints. Turn a complaint into a question.”
Image from Unslpash by Analia Baggiano
We all complain from time to time. I’m sure you see a bunch of whining and complaining within your various communities. How often do you think or even say some expletive aloud, to silence all the negativity?
Effective coaches and communicators know the value of questions, especially open-ended questions that can have the power of an “off” switch of negativity and an “on” switch of possibility.
Consider the following questions, and perhaps make up a few of your own:
- How would you like things to be?
- What could you do to improve the situation?
- What ideas do you have to resolve this issue?
- Where could you look for solutions to this challenge?
- What alternative approaches can be taken to improve things?
How can you find more silver linings and gratitude in the complaints you currently experience?
How can the right question at the right moment be used to move your world forward today?
“How will you put your mind and your time to good use?”
Image from Amazon.com
“Good Question!” is a fairly frequent response I receive from the people I coach.
It says, to me, that we have hit on an area where looking more carefully or digging deeper would prove useful or interesting.
Warren Berger’s book, A More Beautiful Question: the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas is one of my favorites on this topic.
Breakthroughs in our mind and our use of time may be two useful places to start.
For the next week, be your own coach. Ask and answer questions like the one that is today’s quote. Consider exploring your answers with others in your personal and professional communities. Consider capturing this heavy lifting in a journal or note book.
Please reply to this post and let me know how you put your mind and your time to good use.
“Questions can be like a lever you use to pry open the stuck lid on a paint can.”
—Fran Peavey, late political Author
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Michael Bungay Stainer is a masterful coach whom I greatly admire. I’ve read most of his books and look forward to his daily “Great Work Provocation” blog, which you can explore for yourself at https://boxofcrayons.com/great-work-provocations-series/. His most recent work – The Coaching Habit – includes seven core questions that can help all of us pry open the lids of new possibilities in both our personal and professional worlds. I fully agree that the seven questions provided below will help us all say less, ask more, change the way we lead our lives, and better support those we wish to serve.
- The Kickstart Question: What’s on your mind?
- The AWE Question: And What Else?
- The Focus Question: What’s the real challenge here for you?
- The Foundation Question: What do you want?
- The Lazy Question: How can I help?
- The Strategic Question: If you are saying Yes to this, what are you saying No to?
- The Learning Question: What was most useful for you?
Please consider applying these questions to build your own coaching habit to open up your relationships and your world and lead a more vibrant and beautiful life.
You can also learn more about Michael’s books and his work at www.boxofcrayons.biz