Football coach Lou Holtz loved this question. He requested his players to ask it over 30 times per day. When they were working out at the gym, when they were studying at the library or when they were on the field.
His aim was to make them prioritize the decisions they were faced with.
What is important now? It is a powerful question that we can use in our daily life. Sometimes it is hard to give an answer. Or the answer you have might scare you. Because you would have to admit to yourself that you are working on the completely wrong thing right now. Or the thing that you deep down know you have to do makes you feel anxious. You might want to start a new career but don’t know how to get there.
Try to answer this question with brutal honesty. It is your way to regain clarity and focus in your life. It gets you to the core of what it is you need to do.
Whatever your answer is right now, it can teach you a lot. How to embrace what you want to change in your life. How to live in the moment. How to act mindfully. Once you see the big picture, you learn what the next step can be towards a happier and more meaningful life.
In our modern education system, questions have gotten a bad reputation. Teachers value to get the right answers instead of smart questions. But questioning yourself and the world has always been a big part of the human enterprise. French philosopher Voltaire already said:
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
In the Silicon Valley, lots of companies have embraced the power of questions. American journalist Warren Berger interviewed dozens of companies like Google, Netflix or Airbnb about the role of questioning in their success for his book “A More Beautiful Question”.
What he found out: Questions are the key to innovation and breakthroughs.
Those who ask the best questions come up with the most innovative and successful ideas. The simplest question for innovation is “Why aren’t people doing this?”
If you want to find new solutions, you need to stop thinking in old ways about what is possible and how things are supposed to be done. Innovation starts in the place where we embrace the unknown.
There are plenty of examples in innovation history for the value of questions for innovative design.
Edwin Land’s daughter loved the pictures her father took with the camera. But one day she asked her dad: “Why do I have to wait to see the picture?” Land started experimenting to find a solution and finally came up with the Polaroid Camera.
Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were flatmates in 2007 when they found themselves wondering: “Why do people have to stay in an overpriced hotel if we could just offer a room in our place for them to crash?” They put an inflatable mattress into their apartment in San Francisco and started a webpage that is now known as Airbnb.
A professional coach can teach you how to ask the right questions about your business or your personal life. The big questions are often the ones we are too afraid to ask ourselves. A coach can question you in that way to get you to a more happy and meaningful life. To give you an idea of what kind of exercises and practices, coaches are working with, we collected some hands-on tips for you on the subject:
Tip 1: Find your purpose
If you want to find your calling in life, it is best to start with these questions. Try to not think about what is “possible” or “ manageable” but truly answer with your honest opinion:
Tip 2: Learn to ask the right questions for innovation
If you want to get better at asking the right questions for a business idea, American journalist Warren Berger offers a three-step process:
Step One: Why? To see and understand the world differently, you should ask “Why is it like this and not different?”
Step Two: What if? To find possible solutions, you need to ask “What if it was different?”
Step Three: How? The last step is to pick one of the many “what if”-scenarios and put the best one into action.
Tip 3: Try questions instead of affirmations
In meditation practice, it is very common to work with affirmations such as “I am good enough” or “I can do whatever I set my mind to”. This might work well if we agree with the statement. But this is rarely the case when we have just started with reinforcing our self-esteem. If we feed our mind with a statement that we do not genuinely believe in, we will not feel better but might just start getting angry at ourselves for not embracing it.
Questions might be a better possibility in this case. Try to ask yourself a question that you know you can give yourself a positive answer to. How about: “What am I good at?” or “What has been my biggest success?” The more you do it, the easier it will get to think positively about yourself and to improve your self-love.
Tip 4: Give your mood a positive boost
Similar to the last exercise, you can try out a practice of being grateful. It is proven to be one of the best ways to boost your happiness. Make it a mini habit to ask yourself every evening: “What am I grateful for today?” It helps to also write it down in a journal. This way you will soon have a book that is filled with the things you are grateful for.
Tip 5: Rethink the questions you ask yourself
Your brain is like a search engine. It gives you the answers to the questions that you are asking. So if you want to change the way you think, you need to start with the questions that you ask. When we question ourselves “Why am I so stupid?” or “Why am I so afraid?”, your brain will give you what you enquired. Imagine starting with positive questions instead. “What can I change today to be happier?” or “What is a healthy routine I would like to add to my daily life?”
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Originally published at www.coachilla.co