Do not ask unless you are willing to hear the answer… even from yourself.

Why are questions so powerful? (See what I did there?) Consider the sales process as an example. Questions express interest in the potential buyer which in turn builds rapport. Questions invite people to talk about their favorite topics (themselves, their businesses, their family, etc.) They also help you understand important details that are necessary to position solutions for the potential buyer. They help you uncover objections to getting a “yes” before you ask for the sale, so you can address them proactively. This, however, is not an article about sales.

Similarly, however, questions you ask yourself (or your leadership team) can be powerful and dangerous when it comes to your business. You might find that you do not like the answers. You might discover that you are not on track to accomplish what you hoped. Those who choose to read further, heed this warning: Questioning yourself in this way can lead to cognitive dissonance, frightening introspection, alarming discoveries, or even painful truth. It can also provide unprecedented clarity, purposeful direction, and focused motivation.

Question #1: Who am I, or who are we?

I know, that sounds very mystical (not in a good way), but this question begins to help you understand your identity. Identity is even more foundational than purpose. You can only know what you were designed to do if you first know who you were designed to be.

Question #2: What do I believe?

You might be wondering what your beliefs have to do with business. The answer is, “Everything!” Beliefs determine your responses/reactions, attitudes, habits, and level of success. The famous quote by Henry Ford says it all, “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” It is essential to identify your beliefs so that you can test their validity. Often you will find that your beliefs are based on something that happened or words spoken to you as a child. Back trace your beliefs, and then examine them closely. Perhaps a current limiting-belief like, “I’m not smart enough to do this,” stems from a flippant remark said by a parent in a moment of frustration (“Why can’t you be more like your brother!”) If they are not true, then begin working to change your beliefs.

Question #3: What do I want?

That might sound obvious at first, but dig deeper. Once you have the car/house/boat/finances/whatever, ask again. Then ask again. Keep asking yourself what you want until you discover new things about yourself.

Question #4: What were the most momentous/monumental events of my life? (That’s not the question; it’s just the setup.) What did you learn from them?

If you are not learning from your experiences then you are missing out on significant growth. Positive experience can teach you things, but negative experiences can be even greater motivation for change and growth. As is true in nature, we are either growing or we are dying.

Question #5: For what do I want to be known?

Your Legacy. The words in your obituary. What do you want to leave behind (for your family, your community, and humanity)?

There are other dangerous questions, but these will get you started. Take an hour to ask yourself these introspective mind-bombs. You just might be surprised at your answers.

Leave a comment or direct message me… share what you learned from this exercise. I would love to hear your story!