I have long been a promoter of asking questions. [My first book – Tough Topics – is just that; a book of 600 questions intended to stimulate conversation and thought.] What an answer to prayer it would be for wise people everywhere to begin asking powerful, wise questions. For whenever and wherever this happens, happy solutions to what once were intractable problems begin appearing seemingly out of nowhere like ice cream trucks in spring time.
The human mind was specially designed to answer questions. This is one of the reasons why, as we go about our daily lives, our brains are constantly asking and answering questions. We benefit ourselves greatly when we ask questions whose answers are life-giving and that lead to light and better things.
Conversely, we do ourselves no favor when our undisciplined mind is allowed to ask questions whose premise is based in pessimism and, therefore, the answer to such questions can only be negative and lead to more negativity.
That word right there – PREMISE – is the key. In his book, The Secret Code for Success, author Noah St. John points out that the mind generally accepts the premise of virtually any question that it is presented with. Not only that, once the question and its premise has been accepted, our subconscious mind, the part of our brain that is most responsible for our behaviors and decisions, sets into motion behaviors and decisions that manifest the answer to that question.
For example, if you go around asking yourself things like ‘Why am I always late?’you will begin to manifest the answer to that question in your thoughts and decisions and behaviors. Not only will you continue to sabotage yourself by continuing to be late for meetings and appointments, a narrative will flow through your mind that tends to justify your habitual lateness.
And so the opposite is also true. If the above question gets tweaked to ‘Why am I always on time?’ your brain will work on the answer to that question regardless of whether or not the premise happens to reflect the current reality. Keep asking that question and soon, quite out of nowhere, we might settle on an answer to that question. It might sound something like, ‘I’m always on time because I respect myself and others so much,’ or, ‘I’m always on time because it is one way I can show honor to others and to myself.’
Meanwhile, your behavior will begin to change. Because it’s your subconscious directing the behavior, the changes will appear to you to be effortless and second-nature. If you used to be late all the time, you’ll start showing up on time… without really thinking about it (consciously). If you used to find it difficult to stick to a diet, your better questions will fuel better behavior and the weight will start to come off more easily. And it will stay off (as long as you keep asking questions that support these changes).
Some people see a dramatic, sudden turn around; a reversal of longstanding bad habits. Sometimes the change is more gradual. The key is to keep asking questions – actually to flood your mind with questions – that have a powerfully positive premise.
When it comes to our jobs and where we work, there are a few questions we can ask that are all about creating a turn around. By beginning with these four questions, you can actually make yourself part of – if not be the instigator of – a total culture change within the company you work for.
No, that’s not hyperbole. Even if you’re in the darkest cave, how long does it take for there to be light when you strike a match? Of course, it’s instantaneous. More lanterns, more light. Likewise, each question you ask that is aimed at finding solutions is like a new point of light. Those questions will lead the way.
Below are four questions that will get things going. While these are questions to never stop asking, you will find that they lead to even better, deeper, solution-seeking questions…
- Specifically, what is one problem or issue that directly affects me at work?
- What are the ways I make myself part of the issue or problem? (How have I been potentially making it worse, or at least not making it better?)
- How can I take personal responsibility by being a part of the solution, making that problem or issue go away?
- How are things better at my workplace because I work there?
Did you notice the premise of that last question? You may not feel, at this moment, like it is true that things are better at your workplace because of you. However, if you really do feel that way, you need to know that such feelings are lies. You would not have been hired and you would not still be there if you weren’t making a positive contribution to the company you work for.
Look, don’t argue. Just answer the questions and get back to me. If, after three days of dealing with these questions, you aren’t flush with a few ideas, a few possible solutions, some things that lead to light and better things, then, frankly, you aren’t taking this seriously.
All the best answers and solutions are delivered to the mental in-box of those who are really looking for them.
This article is dedicated to my dear friend and mentor, Clark C. in Eugene, Oregon. A great asker and answerer of many questions. Thanks, buddy. Love you, man.