What do you REALLY want?

As a coach, I ask alot of questions. I often say that my job is to ask smart people seemingly dumb questions. Those questions may seem dumb in their simplicity…like…what do you really want? That is the question I most frequently ask my clients, as it provides…

  • Insight into what they see in the bigger picture of their lives
  • Clarity through their overwhelming to-do list, and,
  • Wisdom to move through challenging inter-personal situations.

A typical follow-up question that I use is…and how will you feel when you get what you are really wanting? I have found that this engages people at a different level. Imagining the emotions associated with actually getting what you want help a person step into that future state of what it will feel like to get it. In a way, it gets you started in an “as if” mindset. Thinking and feeling as if you already have what you are wanting ignites momentum that, most times, will get you there.
A recent Harvard Business Review blog suggested five New Year’s resolutions. One, in particular, really resonated with me:

Finally, ask more questions than you answer: With the high velocity of change in the world, it is impossible to have answers to all the important questions. Much more important is a deep curiosity about the world and the ability to frame the right questions in profound ways. The world's toughest problems cannot be solved by you or any one organization. Your role will be to bring the right people together to address the challenging issues you raise. Our research demonstrates that the biggest mistakes result from decisions made by people without deep consideration of thoughtful questions.

Company cultures in the U.S. have put a high value on having the right answers…not on asking the right questions. Yet, in asking the right questions, you can unlock the best solutions.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

Here are a few additional questions that I have found to be particularly powerful:

  • What’s possible?
  • What possibilities exist that we haven’t thought of…and could make a difference?
  • If you were King/Queen/World Designer, how would you like things to be?
  • What can we do that could help shift this situation?
  • Knowing that we are naturally creative and resourceful, what bold steps can we take to stretch us into a whole level of _____ (effectiveness, fulfillment, engagement, etc?)

To learn more about the power of questions, check out…The Art of Powerful Questions…Catalyzing Insight, Innovation and Action at http://www.theworldcafe.com/pdfs/aopq.pdf

I challenge you to try the art of powerful questions…with yourself, at home and especially with your teams.

Get curious!

Go on a scavenger hunt to unearth the treasures within yourself and your people.


One Response to What do you REALLY want?
  1. Cindy
    January 7, 2012 | 3:54 pm

    Thank you for this. Your words always make me feel lighter and able to walk through my life with a clearer purpose.

    And the answer must be to get to the bicycle with the basket.