THE ART OF ASKING POWERFUL QUESTIONS
"Many of the treasures of life remain hidden from us simply because we never look for them. We often fail to ask the right questions that could lead us to the solutions to all our problems.” Andy Andrews “The Seer”
Whether we ask ourselves or someone asks us powerful questions, they are an almost magical tool to help us sort out our thoughts, feelings, and priorities. They also help us plan, align our resources, and set clear goals and KPIs. Above all, powerful questions help us find the right for each of us answers.
But what is happening in our reality? Just imagine for a moment that you wake up tomorrow with amnesia. You will not remember your name, where you are, or what you do for a living. All the people around you may look familiar, but they are nothing more than a mystery - walking question marks. You will look around may be to find a bag or wallet where an ID will provide you with important information such as your name, social security number, and address registration. But this will not tell you WHO YOU ARE. As you continue your quest, looking outside may give you some information about where you are, but it will not tell you HOW to live your life. Some documents may show you your occupation - a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a housewife, but this will not help you understand WHY YOU ARE HERE.
The truth is: you know your name, your address, and your occupation, but probably, you do not know who you are, how to best live your life, and the purpose for which you are here. You experience great difficulty finding your true identity and authenticity that will help you fulfill your potential for well-being, growth, and success.
The reason why we run so unaware through life is deeply rooted in our societies and the Traditional Education System. It is proven that by the age of 12, children lose their creativity and natural ability to ask questions and be curious. These key skills are replaced by stereotypes and patterns that are transmitted to us by our most trusted authorities. We learn to follow and listen to our parents, teachers, other adults, bosses, gurus, and politicians without questioning their truth. We are told what is right and wrong; what we are allowed and what we are not allowed; what is good and what is bad; what is black and what is white. We know how we need to behave to belong to our societies.
Although stereotyping facilitates our brains processing faster information, it is harmful. There cannot be uniform truth for all of us - black for one is white for another; what is good for one is inapplicable to another. Our lives are full of inertia that prevents us from figuring out what beliefs are ours and what we have adopted. We constantly live up to the expectations of our relatives, colleagues, children, friends, and even people we barely know. Everything happens so fast that most of the time we barely have time to react. Day after day; month after month - time passes and we secretly know that we have more potential and there is more for us in life, but right now we do not have time for it...
How can we fight back the inertia? The starting point and the most important step is to start asking ourselves powerful questions again. Reclaiming the ability, we all have when we come into this world: to ask questions, to want to know why, to look for alternatives, to seek and find ourselves and our truth - this is the mechanism. By asking questions, we will discover where we are, where we want to be, how to get there, what is important to us, and what resonates with our values.
So, what are the power questions? They have two main characteristics:
They are open questions starting with HOW, WHO, HOW MUCH, WHEN, WHERE, WHAT, WHICH, and WHY (it is important to note here that the question Why is like a double-edged sword and its strength depends on how we use it. "Why does the Earth spin?" - that's a great question, but "Why did you do it?" - immediately creates a barrier in communication, especially in people with higher egos it can lead to aggression. So, I prefer to replace, when possible the question "Why" with "What" – "What made you do it?" as it is a little milder. Still, all of the questions above provoke us to build awareness.
The other characteristic of powerful questions is that they must be systematized in some order and aim at a specific result (for example: finding alternatives, solutions, generating ideas, a plan, or the first step in some direction). Imagine you are sitting the whole day asking randomly powerful questions. You will generate a lot of information, but this information will not necessarily add much value to our existence and personal and professional development. So, we need to ask powerful questions purposefully. Imagine, we have a funnel, and the powerful questions help us pass through it. Starting with an amount of chaotic information and ending with concrete conclusions or action steps.
Therefore, I hope that we will be able to keep our curiosity and the ability to ask powerful questions - they are our way to a better and more fulfilling, and successful life!