Years ago, I read a wonderful book by Alan Lakein called How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life. One of the things that stayed with me from this nifty little manual was the question, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” It’s a question that helped me regain my focus when I felt scattered, reminded me about priorities and, most importantly, pointed out that I was in charge of how I was spending my time.
Anyone who spends time with a toddler knows that their exploration of the world is filled with a steady stream of questions. Annoying as that can be to an adult, it’s also an essential learning tool for the child.
As common as the humble question is, I don’t think we’ve given enough attention to the importance of asking good ones. I certainly hadn’t thought much about it, although I was acutely aware of the all too familiar dream killing question, “How are you going to do that?” which greets millions of new ideas.
Several years ago I read The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen which gave me a new perspective. In their chapter The Size of the Questions Determines the Size of the Result, they write, “The wrong question will generate the wrong result or a less than outstanding outcome. Questions predetermine the answer. The size of your question determines the size of your answer. Few people ever ask million-dollar earning, inventing, generating and creating questions. They are yours to ask.”
How can you learn to ask better questions? For starters, notice the ones that stop you dead in your tracks. Notice, too, any thoughts you may have that asking questions is a sign of weakness. (Fanatics don’t ask questions. They make pronouncements.) Listen, too, to good questions and see how they open up creative thinking.
Last year, I decided to try a little experiment. Actually, it wasn’t so little. I adopted a question that I asked myself over and over all day, every day. It sounds ridiculously simple, but it produced an endless stream of joyous results. That little question is, “How can I make it better?” “It” usually meant whatever was in front of me. Sometimes the answer was rather ordinary…along the lines of, “Make order on the top of your desk.” Almost always, the answer directed me to taking small actions, things I could accomplish immediately that led me closer to bigger achievements.
I urge you to adopt this question for yourself and see where it leads you. As Hansen and Allen point out, “As you ask yourself and others better questions, your results will vastly improve, the world will be better off, your quantity and quality of service will expand, the difference you make will experience quantum change, and you will leave a profound legacy in the footprints of time.”
If you’ve been wondering how your can make your business better, join Alice Barry and me at our upcoming Follow Through Camp, September 11 & 12, and leave with answers that you can turn into action immediately.