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The Power of Questions


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“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its reason for existing. One
cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates
the mysteries of eternity, of life of the marvelous
structure of reality. It is enough if one tries
merely to comprehend a little of this mystery
every day. Never lose a holy curiosity?”

Thomas Edison

Successful people know the art of asking questions. When stumped with a particular problem, they ask themselves empowering questions until they receive an answer. We ask questions every day, but do we ask ourselves the “right” questions and more importantly are we open to the answers?

For example, questions such as; why can I never have what I want? What’s the use? Why do things never work out? Why do I never have enough time and money? The structures of “why” questions are framed for more different answers and will never propel us into action. If we reframe these same questions, the answers are much different. How can I get what I want?
What is the purpose of this? What can I do to help this work out? What actions can I take to bring more time/money into my life? Questions like this are more result oriented and call for solutions and options rather then idle wondering.

In the story of Apollo 13, what led to a successful outcome was asking and answering a series of questions. Each question was solution oriented and none of them were based on “why”. In my years of coaching, I have discovered that people get stuck by asking themselves the wrong questions. Coaching is all about asking powerful questions that bring about positive action and solid results.

Being open to the answer is just as important as asking the right question: Here are some tips to help with this:

1. The first important skill to develop is to keep asking the question, reframing until an answer is received. People stop asking questions because they didn’t get an answer right away or they didn’t like the answer they got!

2. Know what you’re looking for in an answer. Are you looking for a solution or a positive focus? Questions such as “what actions can I take to bring something about?” contain a specific answer and solution. However, a question such as “what is the purpose of this?” may give you an answer less concrete and may come as a hunch or a gut feeling.

3. Take the time to listen. Go to a quiet place, quiet the mind and have only one thought be what ever your question is. So often, we ask ourselves questions in the hustle and bustle of life and can’t hear the answer because we are too busy “doing” and not taking the time or listen or reflect.

Asking questions everyday can be an important focus tip. For example, each day I ask myself three questions: What did I learn today? What did I do that made an impact on someone or something? What did I do to have fun? My philosophy for my personal life and business is centered on those three questions. What are your questions? What questions are you not asking?

Robin Wilson is the founder of Reach and Achieve Associates, a performance and development coaching, training and mentoring firm that specializes in helping companies access, coach and retain key talent. The programs are designed to develop, support and maximize the people resource of an organization.

Robin has facilitated presentations with groups of 150 or more, and has been a guest speaker for several well-known organizations, including the New York State Conference of Mayors, The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, and the New York State Society of Medical Assistants Annual Convention.

She co-authored the book Maximize Your Mind; Peak Your Potential available on her web site. Her article “Ethics in Sales” was published in the HRDQ Press.

Visit Robin’s blog at: http://www.performancetools.typepad.com

For a complete listing of products and services visit her web sites at: http://www.ReachandAchieve.com and http://www.PerformanceLeadershipTools.com.

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  • Posted On December 6, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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