Thursday

Coaching on Asking a Good Question

I'VE COMPLETED my list of suggested questions. And you now know why you should use questions to direct your mind. But before I leave this important topic, I wanted to give you another good method for asking questions. And that is by using another all-purpose tool: Making a list. A good way to use the power of asking a question is ask it on paper and then make a list of answers. Ask the question and keep writing down answers. Set some kind of target — 100 answers, for example — and don’t stop until you hit the target. I think you’ll be surprised at some of the things you come up with, and probably surprised at how creative you really are.

Or set a timer for a period of time, say an hour, and keep coming up with answers until the timer beeps. Pick one question, set your alarm, and jot down as many answers to the question as you can in that time. Don’t monitor your answers or judge them (yet). Just try to answer the question as creatively as you can.

The first few answers will be normal, predictable answers. But then you’ll run out of those, and your creativity will have to kick in.

When your time is up, go through and pick the best answers.

A freeform question-and-answer session can be productive too. By "freeform" I mean to ask whatever question comes up for you, and then answer it to the best of your ability. Then see what question comes up for you next, and then answer that one.

For example, this little freeform dialog happened when my first book was published and I was trying to get it for sale in bookstores. I hit several setbacks in a row and I was feeling dishearted. Yet the written dialog I had with myself lifted me out of my depressed state within minutes. I felt strong and determined afterwards. My fighting spirit had returned.

Q: Why do I feel sad and defeated?

A: It seems like all I do is stick my neck out, then people are mean to me, and then I feel like a loser.

Q: Why do I want to promote this book?

A: I want Klassy proud of me. I want to make a difference with my life. I want to sell lots of books. I want to make money.

Q: Would I be willing to gain those things if I had to pay for it by sticking my neck out, having some people be mean to me, and occasionally feeling like a loser?

A: Yes. Absolutely.

In that short time, I suddenly felt determined. My motivation came back. I remembered that every person I admired had experienced similar trials and hardships, and my line of questioning cast my setbacks in a new, more noble context.

The primary way of asking questions is to create a good question and then have it on your mind for several days or weeks, pondering it in your spare time. It's a good way to direct your mind, motivate yourself, increase your determination, and make lasting changes.

But the two variations I mention in this article can work more quickly. Either ask a question and challenge yourself to make a list of answers, or use a freeform question-and-answer technique. Any questions?

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