Goal Processing: Create Change by Asking the Right Questions

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."- Voltaire

Successful people know the right questions to ask to spur development and improvement. Many of these questions do not have pleasant answers. They reveal weaknesses, blind spots and mistakes. They also create answers that require making difficult changes. This is why average and mediocre are rampant. Real success needs honesty, humility, a growth mindset and hard work to flourish.

An example of this is the question I am constantly asking as a small business owner. "Why did he/she say no?" I fight hard to learn why "lost clients" say no to us. I've been in the speaking/training business for twenty years. I don't need to ask why people hire me. A client saying yes today can almost always be sourced back to a specific and successful presentation I gave in the past. The great unknown is why people decide to say no; which in my mind is actually a "not right now". Some business owners choose not to get this information, but I see it as the other side of the excellence coin for any business.

Side One - Have an intimate knowledge of what the client needs and over-deliver it.

Side Two - Have an intimate knowledge of why potential clients choose other service providers and, if it fits our core mission, work hard to sharpen those skills, services and products.

This coin metaphor also applies to personal success and drives the need to learn what questions should be asked to create real positive change in our personal and professional lives. I have a good friend who has been struggling with personal challenges. One the biggest lessons he has learned can be summed up with four words, "Walk toward the pain". This means getting closer to the source of the problem, not running from it or making excuses for it. The first step in walking toward the pain is knowing what question(s) should be asked. Spend some time thinking hard on this. Journal your thoughts. Discover new answers to gain the necessary insight for meaningful growth and improvement. If you are looking for a place to start, consider this quality of life equation:

Quality of Life = The alignment of expectations/desires and the reality of life.

No matter what area of improvement you are interested in, if there is misalignment in these two key elements, you won't have the natural energy and momentum needed to take action and produce tangible change. Therefore, look closely first for anything that might be creating an imbalance between your expectations/desires and the reality of your life. The possible sources could be:
  • Health challenges (injuries, lack of sleep, etc.)
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Unfinished conversations
  • Unrealized goals
  • Incomplete projects
  • Unnecessary expenses
  • Misaligned perspectives
  • Incomplete information
  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of resources
  • Unresolved mistakes
  • Unforeseen events
  • Overtaxed (time, duties, projects, etc.)
  • Giving up too early or too easily
In your quiet time, go through this list and examine honestly which ones are true to your life. Begin your questioning journey here; these are the sources that make the biggest difference to your quality of life. When quality of life goes up, your Performance Capacity increases accordingly.

Performance Capacity = Your available resources to accomplish a task.

Creating meaningful change in your life requires a large amount of Performance Capacity. Any increase in your resources will provide the fuel you need to take action. Be honest with yourself, seek out what questions you need to be asking and be bold and confident in turning the answers into real change.

A little morsel you can tweet to your peeps:

@pli_leadership Success is based more on what questions you ask than on what answers you know. http://tinyurl.com/thepliblog

Follow us:  @pli_leadership

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