Powerful Questions


iStock_000000515657We are always off the mark when it comes to describing our strengths and weaknesses.  Our built-in-bias makes us overemphasize our good points and minimize our bad ones.  For example, 90% of us think we will go to heaven when we die.  Yet at the same time, we think that only about a third of our neighbors will make that journey.  Our halo also keeps us from seeing ourselves as others see us.

That halo also prevents us from being as effective as we could.  In our mind, we see ourselves creating the positive results and blaming others for the negative ones.

True self-understanding can’t happen in a vacuum.  Without outside touch points, nothing keeps our bias in check.  Our blind spots stay blind.

Whom do you have to keep you honest?  To keep you accountable?  Here are three quick guidelines to get started with one.

First, don’t pick the person because they make you feel good.  Pick your partner because they will help you see yourself as others see you.

Second, pick the person who will ask questions and let you talk.  When you ask, “What do you think?” you want them to say back, “you first.”

Third, pick someone who is available.  You want to talk with this person every week or two.  You want to discuss

  • what’s gone right
  • what’s gone wrong
  • your role in it all
  • what you want to do about it moving forward.

Stepping away from your halo is not difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  We have to learn honesty about ourselves.

What will you do this week to find some clues?

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The Mysterious Question

Coaches ask questionsDescribing the difference between truly asking a question and really making a statement is a difficult task.

Grammatically, it is a punctuation mark.

Vocally, our voice rises at the end of a question and lowers at the end of a statement.

The words don’t even have to be different.  “What now?” has the same words as “Now what!” but isn’t close on meaning.

Mentally, the differences are bigger than Texas.

  • A question comes from curiosity. A statement says, “I know.”
  • A question is an invitation to dance. A statement is a command performance.
  • You never know what the answer will be when you truly ask a question. There are no unknowns with a statement.
  • Questions provoke thinking. Statements may not even produce a reply. You’ll never hear an A-HA moment if you only tell.
  • The more open the question, the more thought is generated. Think about “What do you want this month?” versus “How will you hit your sales quota?”

Coaches ask questions.  They want to hear your truth.  Mentors ask questions with a twist.  They want you to learn the subtle answer they know.  Trainers ask questions to help you pass the test.

Think about leading your team.  Now think about difference among these:

  • What do you expect in your business this month?
  • What’s your goal this month?
  • How many recruits will you have this month?
  • How much of our team goal will you produce?

Leaders ask coaching, mentoring, and training questions.  The hardest part for a leader is not the question, but the framework the leader brings to the question.  If you can’t find the differences, then maybe you want to ask yourself some questions.

  • What type of a leader am I now?
  • Am I the leader I want to be for this person?
  • How do I change my role?

We often fall into our answers through experience.

  • What if you decided to be deliberate rather than letting your past control your question?
  • What do you need to know you don’t know now?
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Weekend Love, April Eighteenth

In your headHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  This handful of links takes you  to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

I saw an old bumper sticker the other day that said, “I just do what the voices in my head tell me.”  Peter Bregman thinks we need to manage those conversations more when he writes about Managing the Critical Voices Inside Your Head.

Stephen Covey referred to the last of the seven habits as “sharpening the saw.” Dan Rockwell has some great ideas along the same vein that he writes about in 12 Refueling Strategies That Work Today.

Pope Francis addressed the leaders of the Catholic Church before the holidays last year about the diseases of leadership.  Gary Hamel translates this into English business-speak.  We all need a check-up against The 15 Diseases of Leadership, According to Pope Francis.

From the archives:  What is it about 4:00 am?  Poet Rives shares his thoughts.  His 10 minute TED talk will give you some thoughts for your next visit to that time.

Click here if the video isn’t showing in your browser: http://www.ted.com/talks/rives_on_4_a_m#t-13119



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Weekend Love, April Eleventh

Link love 4-11Here are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  This handful of links takes you  to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

This is a story about how life sucks but the story is still going.  It’s uplifting, honest.

Dan Rockwell writes about what to do If You Can’t Be With The One You Love.  He suggests a great course of action.  I’m doing this.  I think every leader should.

Maybe I’m more tuned to articles on time management since I’m doing a series on it right now through Team Connections.  Anyway, here are nine tips on work-life balance from Linked2Leadership.

I found a blog post about sales on a coaching site.  awesomesauce!  Tony Alessandra writes about Matching Your DiSC Selling Style to the Client’s DiSC Buying Style.

From the archives:  Barry Schwartz digs into a common meme for Western society: more freedom of choice is better. For psychologist Schwartz, choice has paralyzed us and made us less happy.

Click this link if the video isn’t showing: https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice?

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Why Work at Self-Improvement?

Playing at workUnless your goal is to gain 100 pounds and become a couch potato, self-improvement is probably a good thing for your future.  The real question is not whether you should create change in your life, but what you should call the process of creating change in your life:  Should you call it work or should you call it play?

The word “work” creates a mindset that isn’t always the most productive.  Say, for example, you want to be more productive on the phone; you want to make more calls and close more sales.  When you call it work, you suck all of the energy out of the project.  Before you can start, you have to create a plan, set goals, block time for it, and make sure nothing is going to interrupt you.  You are fearful of failing and falling short of your goal, so your commitment isn’t whole-hearted.  Roughly two-thirds of American workers are not engaged in their work.  The same malaise may be affecting your commitment to work at self-improvement.

Now think about playing at self-improvement.  Let’s go back to our example of phone productivity.  Your commitment becomes one of jumping right in.  You check with others to see what they’ve been doing.  You want to try several options (time of day, number of dials before stopping, text before calls, etc.) to see what works.  You change from doing to learning.  Isn’t that what self-improvement is all about?  You want to learn a better way.  You are willing to risk more because you don’t care about failure.  You care about playing a better game the next time.

At the end of the day, when you play at improving, you are likely to get better results that when you work at it.  Isn’t that the name of the game?

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Weekend Love, April Fourth

camoflage hugHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  Most will be a handful of links to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

Four questions to make you go “hmmn.”  The title of Karyn Greenstreet’s article says it all: How Will You Know That You’re Successful, When You Don’t Know What It Looks Like?

At its simplest, coaching is about questions and answers.  Questions that make us think and answers that lead us forward.  Racheal Govender explains Why Coaching works.

Have anything in self-storage?  How about a piece of you?  David Emerald and Donna Zajonc, MCC write about Coming Out of Self Storage.

Best quotation of the week comes from Mark Sisson, “At its best, self-control doesn’t revolve around deprivation, denial or chastising but clarity, intention, and attunement.”  This powerful idea is explored in Self-Control: The Ultimate Exercise in Freedom.

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15 Questions to Describe Your Leadership

Look at your leadershipWe seldom plan to be exactly where we find ourselves.  Direct sales leaders are a good example.  They get there by accident.  Having been through the process, I know how it works. You start out looking for a part time income, talk with a friend who wanted something similar which led to them joining and (before you could think about it), got pushed into a leadership role.  You never really planned to become a leader.  You just looked up one day and there you were.

You started out to solve a problem, didn’t have 20-20 foresight on where it would lead you, and ended up where you are now.  You are developing an awareness of “where you are” versus “where you want to be.”  Before diving back into your business, you need to take a little time in your “step back” to see if where are you are is where you want to be.  Here are fifteen questions to support you in your step back.

  1. What is the mission of your business?
  2. Alternatively, ask, “What calling does my business serve?”
  3. What are the core values of your business?
  4. What examples of your values in action can you point to?
  5. How does your business add to the value in your life?
  6. How will your vision guide your business?
  7. How are you being the leader you would follow?
  8. How will you align your team to your vision?
  9. How will your team describe your leadership style?
  10. How are you living your values in your business?
  11. Alternatively, ask, “How are you leading by example?
  12. How are you embracing your team members who exemplify the team’s values?
  13. How do you want your business remembered?
  14. Alternatively, ask, “What’s my legacy?”
  15. When you leave your business, what will you be leaving behind?

When we get involved with our business, we often get so buried in the “what” of the business we forget to focus on the “why” and “how.”  The former is important, but it’s the latter that is the true measure of your leadership.  You don’t attract people and build a team without a compelling character.  By doing a step back you have the opportunity to examine your business character and become deliberate in creating your future.

If you have a thought partner, this exercise goes much better.  Pick the questions that make you think the most, write a short answer, and have your thought partner react.  You’ll find out very quickly if you are honest with yourself and making sense.

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Weekend Love, March Twenty-Eighth

camoflage hugHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  Most will be a handful of links to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

Are you really trying hard?  Naomi Dunford wants you to really look at the playback when she writes, What if You tried Really Hard?

Read this if you’ve ever used the phrase “stay at home mom.”  Jenny Acuff writes about 2 reasons I hate the phrase “Just a Stay at Home Mom.”

When is the last time you asked about what is meaningful in life?  Marshall Goldsmith, considered one of the top thinkers in the world, talks about six things in his YouTube video.

Special for the Week:  Dewitt Jones has a mission to “Celebrate What’s Right with the World.”  As a photographer for National Geographic he has done that for years.  Here are three short (20 image) collections in pdf documents around three themes of sunrises, children, and pets.

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Monday Morning Focus

Monday morning mindsetHow does Monday morning start differently from every other morning for you?

Are you already up to a full run? Contemplating the week? Moaning about all you have to get done before you get to the satisfying work?

Your answers say a lot about you and what’s really going to happen.  You have created your week.

Is it what you want?  The great news is that you get a do-over every Monday.  In fact, you get a new start whenever you want.

When Monday is in your head, you get to own every piece of it.  Everyday.

Friends, lovers, accountability partners and coaches are all people who can support you in remembering this.  Who will you turn to?

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Weekend Love, March Seventh

Link loveHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  Most will be a handful of links to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

Coaches try to avoid giving advice, and sometimes that leaves you and your client feeling stalemated or helpless.  Here are Ten Little Tips to Boost Your Coaching Prowess.

Five Ways to become more Self Aware.  The title says it all.

Trust is one of the key pieces in building coaching and business relationships.  What do you do after you’ve messed it up?  Randy Conly offers 6 Steps to Rebuild Broken Trust.

What would your do-over look like?  Here’s what Joel Peterson says about what he’d do differently.

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