“Your life is completely shaped by the questions you are asking.”
If the primary question you are asking has to do with how to have a good retirement, that is going to lead you in one direction.
If the primary question you are asking has to do with how do you make the world a better place, that will likely lead you in another.
Turns out that the questions we are asking others can have a similar defining effect. One of the things we regularly challenge the leaders we work with to do with their spouses is ask these two questions:
- What do you wish I would do more of?
- What do you wish I would do less of?
If you felt a visceral reaction to just the thought of doing that, it is probably because it is something that you need to do.
Andy Stanley taught us that one of the most powerful questions you can ask your direct reports is:
- What are the one or two things I could be doing to help make your job easier?
He carries a card around in his pocket with the answers to those questions from his direct reports. At any given time, he wants his primary focus to be about using his power, influence, and resources to help his key leaders overcome the biggest challenges they are facing. Beautiful.
Again, if the thought of that terrifies you a little bit, it probably means it is exactly the thing you need to do.
I’d like to add another great question to the lexicon of your leadership. This one applies to almost every situation (family, friends, employees, etc.).
- It is the question that will help take some of the enormous burden off yourself.
- It is the question that will unleash the hidden potential of your employees or other family members.
- It is the question that will awaken a sense of ownership in all of them.
And the only thing it is going to require of you is a little bit of humility and the ability to release control of everything having to be done exactly the way you want it done. It is going to require a little bit of trust and faith that someone other than you might just have something valuable to contribute to the situation.
It also may just require some courage to do what you’ve never done.
The next time someone comes to you with a problem or you are facing a issue or a question in your family or business, ask the others involved:
What do you think that we should do?
The hard part is not the asking of the question, though it might feel very vulnerable or uncharacteristic at first. The hardest part is listening and accepting that their idea, opinion, suggestion, or solution might be a great one. The hardest part of all of this for me is accepting that my way may not be the best or only way.
Mustering the courage to ask this question and follow this path unleashes all kinds of beautiful things: Freedom and margin for you and empowerment and ownership for others.
Maybe you think your bulb is a little brighter than the others, but just realizing that there are other bulbs might begin to lighten things in ways you can’t even imagine.
- Are you tired and overwhelmed at having to have all the answers and solve all the problems?
- Have you really permission’d others to be part of the solution or merely the executers of your solutions?
- What do you think might happen if you started asking them what they thought you should do?